More than thirty years ago, scientists from many different fields of study pooled all their information together and saw a trend and cause for our changing climate. They announced what they found and nobody listened. Then a very bad thing happened: a Democrat made a very good movie that presented this in a very understandable way. Up until that point it was just facts. The Democrat ran for president and lost. Had he won, this would have been a national discussion for all but, as part of his campaign, it became a Democratic issue instead of a scientific issue and has remained that way for over thirty years. Climate change has nothing to do with the social/governmental issues that divide Republicans and Democrats!
While doing nothing, we have had thirty years to test the validity of what scientists predicted. The failure is only that things are happening faster than predicted. Puddles absorbed more heat than white ice and faster-melting ice exposed more dark earth. Methane captured in ice and frozen ground was released and methane, or natural gas, is a far more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. And fracking has leaked large amounts of methane.
Temperature predictions were quite accurate, but what the warmer earth would do with that heat is more difficult to predict. When water runs down a slight hill, it flows smoothly, like water in a lake and the silt falls out. But on a steep slope the faster water swirls, bouncing off rocks and other swirls, sweeping up dirt, causing erosion. We can predict the erosion but predicting each swirl is impossible. The heat energy is speeding up our ever more turbulent jet stream and we cannot predict where the droughts and rain floods will be. People in parts of India have been dying from floods while elsewhere in India they are dying from drought-induced water shortage. Recently Mexico City had hail stones more than three feet deep. We now have tornadoes in Virginia. We have regions more susceptible to fires and we have had more and bigger hurricanes. When did we learn Derecho, Bomb Cyclone and Polar Vortex?
It is impossible to state the cause of any one hurricane. Hurricanes are a crap shoot and it is difficult to detect loaded dice. Flipping coins is an easier example. If you flip a coin and get three heads in a row, you cannot say anything about cause. But if you get ten heads in a row, the game is probably fixed. If it looks random but you get 60 heads and 40 tails the game is definitely rigged. The size and frequency of hurricanes show that the heat energy added to our weather system is having this effect.
We are a world leader admired for setting the direction. Can we afford to take action, maybe alone? There are places where the wind and the sea are calm and times when the sun doesn’t shine. Hydroelectric projects are not in convenient locations. We will be moving more energy but we have one of the oldest energy grids in the world. We have had a few massive black-outs in the past few decades; it is time to invest. Superconducting buried transmission lines are now competitive. They never fall down and don’t waste power heating up wires. The operational savings fund the installation. It is time for a new superconducting grid, no matter what kind of power we consume.
Wind turbines and solar farms also require investment. They don’t require coal or oil to keep them operating; the wind and the sun are free. They also do not poison our fish and our children with mercury and maybe someday we will again have a fishing industry in the Great Lakes. Harnessing free energy would be good for our economy whether we lead or follow.
There are many challenges to this problem of building a new energy generation and transmission system. Many years ago this great nation met the challenge of sending a man to the moon. While we made many advances along the way, the benefit of having the man on the moon has been negligible. Let’s make America great again and lead in the clean-energy challenge which will change the entire world.