Tuesday, April 22nd marks the 51st year of celebrating Earth Day.
I remember going to concerts in Central Park in New York City to watch amazing musicians and eat fun food.
To be frank, I don’t know if this day actually does any good other than bringing awareness to the need for a cleaner planet.
I’m always struck by the amount of garbage and plastic water bottles that are accumulated that day from the celebrations. It amounts to hundreds of tons and the most environmentally conscious folks leave these outdoor areas quite a mess!
And, if you did not know, Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world with an estimated one billion people attending events annually.
But let’s talk about the real issue here: Developing clean energy.
The Current State of U.S. Carbon Emissions
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that, in the last four years, the U.S. has slashed carbon dioxide emissions by 33% after closing most coal-fired plants.
Global energy-related CO2 emissions dropped an additional 7% last year, partly thanks to the expanding role of natural gas.
However, now that we have re-entered the Paris Climate Agreement, there is a possibility that—with good intentions—this decrease in carbon dioxide emissions will come to a grinding halt.
Was it a mistake to rejoin the Paris Agreement?
In the Paris Agreement, China and India receive a multi-decade pass on lowering their carbon footprint. Most climate scientists agree that China and India are top sources of global carbon emissions. China, currently the world’s largest polluter, is building oil and coal mega-energy plants to keep up with their growing economies.
The Paris Agreement does little to hold China or India accountable. Countries who have chosen to enter into the Paris Agreement have few, if any, enforceable legal obligations to participate or follow through on their promises. Instead, the agreement focuses on voluntary participation and goals, which are set forth by individual countries.
Moreover, the United States and Europe must compensate developing economies should we not reach imposed international targets.
And the current Biden administration, under pressure from their left-leaning constituency, is closing all public lands to future natural gas and oil exploration in the United States. This may inadvertently cause us to begin importing more “dirty” oil from the Mid-East.
So, adhering to the Paris Climate Agreement may actually cause North America to add to the existing emissions issue.
As the world continues moving toward sustainability, we are cautiously and consciously investing in both clean and alternative energy opportunities, as well as battery technology.
President Biden has mapped out a $2 trillion clean energy and green jobs plan, has pledged to cut emissions from electricity to zero by 2035, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Billions of federal dollars will go into this sector with the new Infrastructure Bill, and these sectors will grow in some form just because of this influx.
Looking at trends, we cannot overlook the fact that electric cars are taking root.
Windmill farms are being built and solar farms are blanketing the Southwest US.
Personally speaking, I’m hoping that solar technology will shrink the size of solar cells from their current oversized form to the size of a chip and then be placed on the top of my car.
Should solar cells follow the path of computers and chips, and become more powerful and smaller every day, that would be a major game-changer. A sun-driven future is good for everyone and for our planet.