Reasons to remain hopeful for the climate

Further to the election in the United States, a lot of people are fearing that this may be a death blow to global climate change mitigation efforts.

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Fighting the drought, water efficiency in California

For our Economics classes at Pinchot last year, I – with a few friends and classmates – worked on water in California. My part was focusing on the inefficiency and the leaks occuring in the State. The findings are quite unsettling.

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The Social Progress Index is an alternative to GDP

Last quarter for my Economics classes at Pinchot University I had to work – with my friend and classmate Maurice Ayella – on alternatives to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Here is what we found out.

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Fossil fuels subsidies are worth $5.3 trillion

$5.3 trillion (or 4.7 trillion euros) : those are staggering figures as they amount to $10 million every single minute. The figures come from the International Monetary Fund, so one can be pretty sure of them. 

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Climate action makes economic sense too

There are so many news I’d like to write about that I believe that for today, I’ll propose you some thoughts based on all of them. Please let me know if you like that idea.

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Don’t say climate change, prefer ” climate crises “

Global warming could lead to more violence and warsTo a recent study, global warming could cause a 50 percent increase in violent conflict. Given that it has already sparked the matches of war in Darfur and Syria, one can be scared.  As the Guardian noted :

” A group of researchers have trawled the scientific literature and concluded from 60 studies, from Somalia and China to Colombia and the Middle East, that unusually warm weather generates more aggression and conflict.

” In parts of equatorial Africa, they suggest, every added degree of heat increases the chance of conflict between groups by 11 to 14%. “

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Fossil fuels are abundant. So what ?

Last week on Cleantechies, an article caught my attention. Titled ” What if We Never Run Out of Oil? “. The article made me think and I have to say I got quite mad at it as it is promoting fossil fiels just because they they are abundant.

They might be, and they can be considered perhaps cheap if you don’t take into account the tremendous negative externalities on the environment, our climate and human health. (and a tiny lil’ thing like our civilization ).

This could be depressing given the urgency of acting on climate change. Luckily there are two major trends against coal, oil and natural gas.

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The climate movement can succeed. In time ?

Green victory signUS advisor on sustainability and author Paul Gilding recently published on his blog a compelling, fantastic and stunning piece on how victory is at hand for the climate movement. You might believe this is some hyper optimistic hype.

However, Gilding keeps piling arguments in his article ; arguments that I have developed on this very blog and on Cleantechies for now six years and almost 1,500 articles. Indeed two momentum are being built as you read.

Climate change is becoming more and more serious, and the climate movement is winning bigger and bigger battles. Can it just win the war in time ?

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Oil prices will just keep on increasing

Good bye cheap oil

Good bye cheap oilIt had been a long while I hadn’t blogged on oil prices. This came to me as last week I found two pieces of news showing how oil prices are just going up and up and how they will just keep on increasing in the next months and years.

First and foremost, according to PeakOil.com, US drivers are paying in 2013 higher gas prices than in 2012, which were higher than 2011, which themselves were also higher than in 2008, when oil prices reached their all time high of $147 a barrel.

Still to this website, the annual average for 2012 for Brent crude – one of the benchmarks for oil prices – was higher than in that fateful year of 2008.

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Renewables cheaper than coal in Australia

Wind turbinesLast week I was reporting that in New Mexico, solar is now cheaper than coal, something that analysts forecast would occur only in three or five years. I was wondering if this was an isolated event or the harbinger of a closer paradigm shift.

Well, it seems that it is NOT an isolated event as in Australia, renewables are now cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels.  Yes, here is another coal-rich nation where low carbon outsiders are cheaper than the subsidized fossil fuels.

I am not sure if you – and I for that matter – understand how big these news are but this is a complete paradigm shift as it will change our world forever and for the better.

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Could oil prices increase exponentionally ?

This is the question as we are breaking record high prices. To Reuters: ” Brent oil priced in euros hit a record high on Thursday on heightened tension between Iran and the West while U.S. stocks neared peaks not seen since 2008. “

” The rise in Brent, the benchmark for European crude and most international oil trades, poses a new headache for cash-strapped Europe, still reeling from a two-year-old sovereign debt crisis.”

When I wrote the post on the increasing prices of oil, I noticed that – despite my low level in advanced mathematics – the price curve looks like the beginning of an exponential.

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Corporate Social Responsibility gains momentum

Here are some good news on business and economics. To Earth & Industry, as appearing in Cleantechies : ” In 1999, fewer than 500 companies issued sustainability reports. That number is now over 3,500.

” Once only a concern for a few niche companies with sustainability as a core value and brand differentiator, corporate sustainability has moved categorically into the mainstream.

The MIT Sloan management review is going further, to them, sustainability is nearing a tipping point in terms of importance.

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