Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis?

By David Ray Griffin | Go to book overview

17
THE TRANSITION
TO CLEAN ENERGY

The great energy transition from fossil fuels to
renewable sources of energy is under way
.”

– Lester Brown, “The Great Transition, Part I,” 2012

Germany’s energy transition is indeed unprecedented….
The last time when an energy supply was changed was
the industrial revolution
.”

– Planet Editor, 2014

Chapter 14 argued that there is a strong moral case for the abolition of the fossil-fuel economy, but that, unless there is a viable alternative, the burning of fossil fuels will probably continue indefinitely. This situation raises two questions: Could fossil fuels be replaced by clean energy producing virtually no greenhouse gas? Has clean energy become affordable – no longer too expensive for the poor and likely to weaken the economy?

The term “clean energy” is sometimes called “green energy”; these terms can be used interchangeably. “Renewable energy” is also often used interchangeably with these two terms, but it should not be. Energy is renewable if it is not diminished by use, or is diminished only very slowly, so that it will last forever, at least for all practical purposes – the sun, the primary source of renewable energy, will not run out of fuel for billions of years. But “clean” and “renewable” have different meanings, and some types of renewable energy may not be clean. For example, if oil were replenished underground so quickly that we would never run out it, oil energy would still be dirty. Nevertheless, it is true that most forms of renewable energy are clean, and most forms of clean energy are renewable, so using them interchangeably is understandable. Either term can, therefore, usually be understood to mean “clean and renewable.” But in some cases, the distinction between them is crucial (see especially the section on biomass).

-303-

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Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Table of Contents 5
  • Preface 8
  • Part I - Unprecedented Threats 9
  • Introduction 11
  • 1 - Extreme Weather 24
  • 2 - Heat Waves 33
  • 3 - Droughts and Wildfires 40
  • 4 - Storms 54
  • 5 - Sea-Level Rise 68
  • 6 - Fresh Water Shortage 80
  • 7 - Food Shortage 94
  • 8 - Climate Refugees 106
  • 9 - Climate Wars 118
  • 10 - Ecosystem Collapse and Extinction 134
  • Part II - Unprecedented Challenges and Failures 151
  • 11 - Climate Change Denial 153
  • 12 - Media Failure 181
  • 13 - Political Failure 200
  • 14 - Moral Challenge 227
  • 15 - Religious Challenge 244
  • 16 - Economic Challenge 264
  • Part III - What Is to Be Done 301
  • 17 - The Transition to Clean Energy 303
  • 18 - The Abolition of Dirty Energy 362
  • 19 - Mobilization 391
  • 20 - Conclusion 421
  • EndNotes 425
  • Acknowledgments 503
  • Index 504
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