Saturday, January 17, 2009

The future is now.

Can you picture a world still powered by fossil fuels, with 1 Billion automobiles and 8 Billion people all connected to the grid? What if I told you that this scenario is only 15 years away?

The economist projects that there will be over 1 Billion automobiles on the road by 2025, and 3 Billion by 2050. The chart displayed on the right is very very scary. If automobile technology remains as it is today, this trend alone would raise our planets temperature by 3c, which many scientists agree is a "game over" scenario. Thus far the sturdy internal combustion engine is still the dominant technology, and will continue to be so for at least the next decade. Even if half the cars sold between 2015 and 2025 are zero emissions , the impact will still be potentially devastating.

Meanwhile the US census bureau projects world population to grow to 8 Billion by 2025. More and more of this world lives "on the grid" as electricity becomes a basic right and necessity for all of our planet's citizens. In countries such as Bangladesh, where only 20% of the population has access to power today, the alternative is to cut forests and burn inefficient biomass material, so it not clear whether increased electricity access will make GHG emissions better or worse.

Unfortunately, what is clear is that the promise of green energy will not happen quick enough. A recent report by the National Intelligence Council stated that;

"...all current technologies are inadequate for replacing the traditional energy architecture on the scale needed, and new energy technologies probably will not be commercially viable and widespread by 2025. The pace of technological innovation will be key. Even with a favorable policy and funding environment for biofuels, clean coal, or hydrogen, the transition to new fuels will be slow. Major technologies historically have had an “adoption lag.” In the energy sector, a recent study found that it takes an average of 25 years for a new production technology to become widely adopted."

When I 'pitch' ClimatePath, I position our two solutions - conservation and carbon offsetting - as early wedges in the long term fight against climate change. Buying greener products just isn't enough. We need to start consuming less, and directly supporting near term project efforts to reduce emissions, whether it is a forest in Uganda or in our back yard, and whether it is financing CFL conversion in your house, New Orleans , or Soweto.

The time to act is now. Commit to doing your part . Your footprint counts.


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