Yep, we're screwed.
The Good News:
Here's the thing: clean, renewable energy is proving to be even more profitable these days, and the industries are adjusting to it. For the first time, CO2 emissions are down during a period of economic growth, thanks to increased reliance on renewable energy sources.
American air pollution is clearing up as well -- there are more cars, but they're producing less nitrogen dioxide due to environmentally friendly regulations and advanced "green" technologies. The simple result is that our skies are cleaner. When the news does talk about this, they aren't quite sure how to handle it:
"Is ISIS the reason? We hope it's ISIS."
It's also been a bad time for coal, with renewable energy overtaking it in capacity for the first time in 2015. A whopping half a million solar panels were inaugurated every day in that same year, and even China deserves a pinch of kudos, erecting two new wind turbines per hour to partially offset its sky-murdering industrial expansion.
Several other countries are stepping up their renewable game: Costa Rica had recent success running on a Captain Planet-esque combination of geothermal, solar, wind, and hydropower for 76 consecutive days in 2016 and 2015, for a total of 150 fossil-fuel-free days. In France, the Alpine town of Albertville is powered by whey, or protein powder, a byproduct of Beaufort cheese manufacture. The local power plant combines the protein with bacteria, producing methane and carbon dioxide gases which power a generator and supply energy to 1,500 inhabitants -- yes, this town runs on cheese. That is the most French thing ever.
Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images
Next step: Replace all car wheels with these things, Flintstones-style.
In Europe, the Swedes have gotten so efficient at recycling that they must import 700,000 tons of trash from other countries to keep things running smoothly. Norway faces a similar problem, and the two countries compete for the world's garbage, forcing the Norwegians to settle for the United Kingdom's second-rate Eurotrash.
And so on. There's still a long way to go, but eventually, clean energy will completely overtake the filthy kind, and we'll have to find some other way to murder our planet.
Jonathan Milward is a cynical optimist living with his hot wife in Bedfordshire, England. Read about their unconventional take on parenting at http://www.oursprogblog.com. Mike Bedard is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter if you want to stay in the Bedard-loop.
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