America is Falling Behind in Renewable Energy, & That Makes Us Dangerous

Republicans say we don't need renewable energy. Establishment Dems make noises they care about our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, but Clinton and Obama both promoted natural gas (and thus increased fracking) as a bridge fuel to the future. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is rapidly moving toward a green energy grid.

In this past March, Portugal not only generated enough electricity from renewables to power the whole country for the whole month, it actually produced extra electricity this way. Portugal is constructing an underwater cable to export green electricity to Morocco, and hopes to strengthen the links of its grid to Spain and France. But the important thing is that Portugal, a country of over 10 million people, may soon regularly avoid burning fossil fuels for making electricity nationally. 100% renewables are becoming normal.

Portugal is a poor country compared to most of the rest of Europe. It ranks 46th internationally, and its GDP of $199 Billion is dwarfed by the US, with its 18 Trillion dollar economy. But Portugal is not alone. Scotland received "68.1 percent of its electricity from renewables last year." Costa Rica had 300 days where it relied solely on renewable energy in 2017. Overall, the world is investing in renewable energy at an ever increasing rate. For example ... the world invested more in solar energy than in coal, gas, and nuclear combined last year."

Global investment in renewable energy shot up last year, far outstripping investment in fossil fuels, according to a UN report.

As the price of clean energy technology plummets, it has become an increasingly attractive prospect for world governments.

China was by far the world’s largest investor in renewable energy in 2017, accounting for nearly half of the new infrastructure commissioned. [...]

The global replacement of traditional fuels with renewables led to around 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions being avoided last year – the equivalent of removing the entire US transport system.

“The extraordinary surge in solar investment around the world shows how much can be achieved when we commit to growth without harming the environment,” said the head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim.

Unfortunately, US investment in renewable energy is not keeping pace with our biggest economic rival, China, who is outspending America by a factor of 3:1, even though China's GDP is roughly 60 percent of America's GDP. China increased ther investments in renewable energy by 30% in 2017. The US? We reduced investment in the green energy sector by 6% last year compared to 2016.

Imagine if we committed to a Manhattan-style infrastructure project over the next five to ten years to research, develop and install renewable energy in order to to upgrade our current outdated energy grid? The return on that investment would be astronomical, and the benefits would not just be economic in nature. A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is one obvious result, but even more important, our need to intervene in other parts of the world to secure the continued flow of fossil fuels would be much reduced. In short, our foreign policy would not require the substantial drain on our economy and our military that the never-ending wars in the Middle East and elsewhere have produced.

And what's standing in the way of this? Only the fact that both our major parties are beholden to Big Oil and Big Coal to finance their political campaigns. Nor should we forget that our corporate media is heavily dependent on ad buys by big oil companies like Exxon, Shell, BP and Chevron. In Colorado between 2012-2015, Big Oil contributed $80 Million.

Take a look at these two graphs. The first shows Big Oil's political contributions beween 1990 and 2018 (to date):

Big Oil Political donations 1_0.png

Now here is what the largest Big Oil companies spent on lobbyists in 2017:

Big Oil Lobbyist spending 2017.png

Is anyone surprised by this? I'm not. We've seen the effects as well. A nation desperately in need of eliminating fossil fuels in order to save the American economy, and a planet that requires immediate action to limit the consequences of human induced climate change, has been consistently failed by the US government. Our politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, are in thrall to the large fossil fuel energy corporations and do their bidding, well aware of the short and long term consequences for the security of our country and the world.

Looking at this data, I conclude that the sooner the American Empire falls the better, for both our people and the planet. Right now we have the largest military in the world by a substantial margin, and it's fighting numerous resource wars for the sole purpose of sustaining an unsustainable economic model based on keeping our country and the world reliant on oil, gas and coal for its energy needs.

Our government is currently setting the stage for more famines, floods, droughts, disease and war all to benefit "allies" like the despots in Saudi Arabia and mega-corporations in the business of fossil fuel extraction and production, as well as financial institutions that profit from investments in this sector. Until we throw off the political shackles of these plutocrats, America is and will continue to be the greatest threat to human survival in both the near and long term.

Share
up
0 users have voted.

Comments

I thought soon enough we will have less and less oil. We should be sprinting toward renewables with total urgency.

One pundit noted that during the Cold War, sci-fi writers helped instill in people the idea that nuclear war would mean the end of the world. And thus helped prevent nuclear war as they gave us the imagery of it.

Sci-fi writers are giving us visions of near dystopian societies that are for the most part vicious class based societies even worse than the Medieval Ages but we need a compelling image of a world with no fuel living under the ravages of global warming as a common understanding of a future world we don't act. I thought the film Day After Tomorrow was pretty compelling in that way.

up
0 users have voted.
QMS's picture

@MrWebster for a future beyond earth raping energy. I've read several from the 50's and 60's that had roads powering cars, energy transported via air waves, condensed power modules, plant based energy, sound driven travel, all kinds of imaginative stuff. Opening the future to innovation seems to be contrary to all but the multi-nationals that can control new technologies and make money from it. We've become slaves to what is produced in mass scale. The cheap, quick fix is short term extinction.

up
0 users have voted.
Alligator Ed's picture

@QMS

Opening the future to innovation seems to be contrary to all but the multi-nationals that can control new technologies and make money from it.

The basic premise is this: the elites care not one whit about you or me--only what they can squeeze out of us till we drop of pollution-induced diseases or radioactive fallout from our imperialistic wars. Only a few of the 99% appreciate in how much contempt we are held by the elites--if they even deign to think about us at all. Just think about the love and concern for everyday people manifested by the CIA in bringing down the Twin Towers and numerous airplane crashes carrying just one target--too bad for the rest of the passengers getting on the wrong plane.

up
0 users have voted.
Wink's picture

But somebody or other said last year that there's Tons and Tons and Tons of oil in the ground. A near bottomless pit.
@Alligator Ed
So I suspect the Elite just don't give a flyin' flip about hippie dippy "Renewables" becuz there's an endless supply of black gold, Texas tea. Their 90 day quarterly vision says "keep pumping, baby!" We'll switch to "green" when we run out. Which is never.
So we're stuck in the fifties as the world goes passing by.

up
0 users have voted.

the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

Bisbonian's picture

@MrWebster , was that as the amounts in the ground got less and less, it would be increasingly harder to get out. It is, but fracking is masking that effect. With fracking, they are getting the last bits of oil and gas in some areas...we are in a VERY temporary boom.

up
0 users have voted.

"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

riverlover's picture

I am surprised tRump hasn't made a opposition paper against laws attacking buggy whips and straight razors. I suspect he is frightened of horses. So has no clue.

After multiple head traumas I am losing hair. Very vexifying. And my non-white hair is changing color. Brown is now going red. No colorants.

up
0 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

according to the graphs is how little it is costing them to destroy the planet. Less than 50 million a year on avg. combined, not a bad return on investment since most of these company's are generating billions in profits annually.

up
0 users have voted.
edg's picture

Big Oil, Big Coal, Big War. Those are the 3 drivers of US policy around the world. Companies making more from oil, coal and bombs see no reason to change their product line.

up
0 users have voted.
Wink's picture

So here's the Plan...
@edg
"We" (being the progressive community at large, not just here on C-99) find a small town of 100 to 200 homes; population two, three times that, and Greenify their homes with solar and/or wind power. Every house. Off the grid.
When the meter reader comes around the meters all read "zero useage."
Now, Big Grid isn't going to miss 100, 200 customers. But it's a pretty good start to putting a dent in fossil fuel consumption. And, when their buds in the next town ask them about their "electric bill" and the answer is "we don't have an electric bill, a bunch of hippie dippy Libruls installed us some solar power," it might start sumpthin'. Or not.
Total cost about a $Million for 100 homes.
So "we" need about 20,000 of us to kick in $50 each.

up
0 users have voted.

the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-2.1) All about building progressive media.

k9disc's picture

Be the shining city on the hill.

From Global Cop to Global Problem Solver.

up
0 users have voted.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

Alligator Ed's picture

@k9disc

up
0 users have voted.