Let me simplify this and point out several important points not discussed in the article:
First of all, Stanford environmental researchers have published an article in the journal One Earth outlining how we can attain these goals and get to 100% renewable energy in 139 countries. It is a detailed report explaining in practical terms how we can accomplish this. Secondly, Elon Musk has run the numbers and shown that a 100 x 100 mile stretch of desert in Calif/Nevada/Utah with efficient solar panels would provide enough electricity to power the United States. Third, PhD researchers at UC Berkely have shown that taking a larger stretch of land in the Sahara desert with sun more than 12 hours per day, could even provide enough power for the entire world, once we got past issues of storage and transmission.
This is from my website under climate solutions: https://starseed-revolution.com/the-solution
Under planetary solutions, here are points number 6 and 7:
6. Efficient energy production and storage: The world needs to become carbon neutral and nearly 80% of America’s energy still comes from fossil fuels. We need a full transition to electric vehicles as well as increasing other energy efficient forms of transportation with energy efficient buildings. We need to create millions of high-wage jobs through a massive clean-infrastructure build-out. Going back to 2019, there were about 750,000 Americans working in the renewable energy industry, compared to 3.8 million in China and 1.2 million in Europe. Those numbers have not changed significantly since then. The answer? Electrify everything, from transportation, industry, to agriculture, and electricity from biofuels or hydrogen can be used for the subset of transportation that can’t be electrified.
We also need to overbuild wind, water and solar the way we did with fossil fuels to help fix the problem with increased use of geothermal and biomass. As per Elon Musk, a 100 mile by 100-mile area in the California/Arizona/Nevada desert would provide enough electricity to power the entire US, at a cost of approximately $3 trillion dollars. In order to accomplish this for the entire world, Dr Mehran Moalem, PhD at UC Berkeley has determined that the total world energy usage (coal+oil+hydroelectric+nuclear+renewable) going back to 2015 was 13,000 Million Ton Oil Equivalent (13,000 MTOE). This translates to 17.3 Terawatts continuous power during the year. Now, if we were to cover an area of the Earth 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels, even with moderate efficiencies achievable easily today, it will provide more than 17,4 TW power, enough to power the entire world. This area is 43,000 square miles.
The Great Saharan Desert in Africa is 3.6 million square miles and is prime for solar power because it has sun more than twelve hours per day. That means only 1.2% of the Sahara is sufficient to cover all of the energy needs of the world in solar energy. There is no way coal, oil, wind, geothermal or nuclear can compete with this, and the cost of converting the world to solar power would be about five trillion dollars. This would be a onetime cost at today’s prices without any economy of scale savings. That is less than the bail out cost of banks by President Obama in a prior recession, and much less than world governments have spent on COVID-19. So, this cost is rather small compared to other spending in the world. We would just need to build continent-scale electrical grids and markets and improve existing ones. Fast response grid storage can be provided by existing lithium-ion technologies and new technologies including ‘sun in a box’ using innovative heat storage in molten silicon or products that can be placed on building and even clothing that converts to electricity on demand. Creating an international energy/solar alliance can also help support the needed changes and technology.
Dr Mark Z. Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Director, Atmosphere/Energy Program, at Stanford University recently published a study in the journal One Earth called ‘The benefits of 139 countries switching to 100% renewable energy by 2050’ and explains how we can achieve these goals. Here are the essential points: this new scientific study outlines how we can produce 100% renewable energy roadmaps for 139 individual countries, representing more than 99% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The study’s 27 co-authors show how available solar, wind, and water resources can be rapidly scaled to create a global energy system that relies entirely on clean, renewable energy for all purposes. The result of such a transition would have many benefits, including: (1) preventing 4-7 million deaths and hundreds of millions more illnesses each year due to air pollution; (2) reducing greenhouse gas emissions to near zero, allowing us to avoid many dangerous climate impacts associated with the continued use of fossil fuels; (3) creating over 24 million more permanent, full-time jobs including the replacement of all jobs lost in the fossil fuel industry;(4) stabilizing global energy prices while simultaneously reducing energy costs for consumers; (5) improving energy access to 4 billion people who would otherwise be experiencing energy poverty; (6) and reducing the risk of terrorism and catastrophic impacts associated with large, centralized energy plants”.
These technologies need to be applied not only to global populations, but especially to the military, since according to experts the US military is possibly the single largest CO2 emitting organization in the world. If we could get countries to agree to a ten-year moratorium, preventing global war and conflict, it would allow us to not only increase world peace, but help the climate. NATO and the UN would have to be empowered to provide incentives and ensure compliance, with economic consequences for countries that do not comply. Diplomacy and detente are more important than ever to ensure world peace and shift resources desperately needed in the fight to reduce climate change.
7. Industrial and Scientific solutions: concrete production needed for building creates 8% of global CO2 emissions, and industrial processes using present technology is inefficient. Use of novel catalysts can lower the energy required for industry, while carbon capture can convert CO2 into carbon monoxide and be used as a biofuel. We must also urgently address the destruction of the ozone layer by our having used CFCs in refrigeration. This has created a ‘hole’ over Antarctica, letting increased amounts of ultraviolet rays into the atmosphere, heating the planet. Project Drawdown lists its #1 solution as the need to eliminate high greenhouse gas HFCs in refrigeration, citing unforeseen effects of changing CFC’s to HFC’s. The US has not yet ratified ‘The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer’ even though 65 countries to date have signed on. Finally, multiple methods of carbon capture and technologies that can help lower carbon pollution are now available online and can be seen on the Carbon Brief and Project Drawdown websites.”
Please see the rest of the article and blogs on my website if you have not yet had a chance to do so.
So lets not make believe that we don’t have the scientific know-how to do this. We do. What we lack is a coordinated global response where world leaders as well as state representatives in the US work together to make this happen. And the only way to do that, is for everyone to come together and put the welfare of the Earth and future generations front and center as the most important issue of our time. This needs to be urgently and comprehensively addressed. We don’t want future generations to look back and ask “Why didn’t people care enough? Why did people not take the climate emergency seriously, and gamble with the Earth’s and humanities future?
Yes, some of the answers are in the scientific realm, but without a deep motivation and caring for others and this planet, those solutions will not be instituted in time. If there was ever a need for human evolution to take a leap, it would be now. And that leap is a moral and philosophical one. Embracing lovingkindness and compassion as a daily practice to prevent suffering, working tirelessly for the benefit of others…these are ideals whose time has come. If we don’t embrace deep humanitarian values, elevating society to its next logical step in evolution, i.e., an enlightened society, then Mother Earth will most likely enact her just reward. And what child likes a severe punishment? We have already seen the signs of a world out of balance. Intense hurricanes, flooding, droughts, wildfires, increases in pollution and vector-borne disease…Is this the legacy we want to leave for future generations? Or is it rather, we came together and fought the good fight to make sure we left the world a better, saner, and healthier place than when we arrived.