The World Only Spins Forward

If you want to know where a nation is headed, talk to her young people under thirty, and they will tell you.

You will not find many Climate Change deniers among them.

In fact, according to Gallup, this year for the first time ever, every age cohort of Americans now believes that Climate Change is caused by human activity: the cumulative and ongoing affects of our burning of fossil fuels for energy, and the resulting pollution it pumps into the atmosphere.

Understanding precedes all action, and “the mind once enlightened cannot again go dark.” So said Thomas Paine, so say we all.

The American Revolution lives.

And Climate Change is the greatest business opportunity to come to the United States in a hundred years.

So don’t let the aberrational — and very temporary — Presidency of Donald Trump block your worldview. All over the globe, Earth Day 2018 sees trends, technologies, markets, nations, and people quickly embracing a renewable energy future. And these trends are far more powerful and life-giving than any single presidency.

The price of solar has been reduced by 80% over the last ten years.

The price of wind has dropped 65 percent since 2009; and could drop another 50 percent by 2030.

Iowa is already 35% wind. Texas is 25% wind.

A Third Industrial Revolution is underway. A global systems shift, in the words of former Vice President Al Gore, combining “the breadth of the former industrial revolutions with the speed of the Information Age.” New technologies in transportation, communication, and energy are once, again, converging together at a unique point in time; this time — our time.

The fuels of the last two industrial Revolutions were coal and oil. The fuels of this Third Industrial Revolution will be solar and wind. And the bridge fuel to this clean energy future is not natural gas, unnaturally extracted through fracking. It is clean building technology and new battery technology. And these technologies are quickly being deployed in electic cars, homes, and businesses across the world.

By 2035, there will be more electric cars on the roads than gas powered cars.

Therefore, the challenges of variability and intermittency from an engineering standpoint, have essentially been solved by advances in storage capacity — battery storage.

Only deployment issues remain.

Today — with existing technology — it costs less money to build new solar and wind power, than it does to build and maintain new coal or nuclear power.

According to the International Energy Agency, by 2030 renewable energy — primarily solar, wind, and hydro — will be the world’s primary power source.

Smart money and smart people will invest where the future is going. Others will cling to the declining profits of a fading past.

According to Bloomberg — just given current market trends — by 2040, solar and wind will make up nearly half of installed capacity; over a one-third of global power generation; and, by 2040, 86% of global investment in new technologies will be in zero-carbon energy sources.

By 2050, according to a recent model, the supply share of Solar PV in the U.S. will steadily increase from its current 1% in 2015 to 54% as it becomes the lowest cost energy source.

And there are far more jobs to be created by building and maintaining new solar and wind power, than there are to be saved by clinging to increasing automated fossil fuel extraction and burning. In fact, 2.7 million new jobs according to a recent study by Amherst University and the Center for American Progress.

So take heart, America. Just because we have lost leadership for a short time in the White House, doesn’t mean we have lost leadership by Americans.

States drive energy policy more so than our federal government does. And cost ultimately drives policy toward the future — at every level of our government.

Even though, the Trump White House claims to have pulled out of the Paris accord, the acceleration of policies and actions by states, cities, counties, and universities will likely achieve the 26%-28% U.S. reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions in the immediate years ahead — whoever the President is.

Conclusion:

As a nation, we can continue to stumble backwards into the future, or we can do as our parents and grandparents did. We can square our shoulders to the future. We can attack our challenges instead of each other. We can make our children winners in a fast-changing economy. And, we can save human life on Earth.

Progress is a choice.
But the world only spins forward.

— Martin O’Malley

61st Governor of Maryland

Democratic Candidate for President, 2016