15 June 2017
Look at this graph. The Energy Information Administration data for March 2017 shows 10% of U.S. power came from wind and solar, a level unimaginable two decades ago.
The graph below shows the clean power by state:
Now, look at the death of coal:
Clean Energy Is Winning The Price Race
We are living through a total upheaval in the way the world produces energy, and clean energy is rapidly becoming cheaper than fossil fuels. Everything changes overnight when that happens, and the sunset is coming. While many Americans may still refuse to accept it, the power of the dollar will win. It always does. If only politicians in the coal states had told their voters the truth, rather than what they wanted to hear, they could have been well on the way to converting the economy of these areas. Instead, they were able to convince enough of the population that every major scientific body on Earth was wrong about climate change. South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis told the truth, and he was promptly voted out of office, so I am not sure the politicians are as much to blame as a public that seems to have poor critical thinking skills.
The Way It Used To Be Is No More
From 1945-1985, you could get a decent paying job in America with modest skills/education. It wasn’t that way before then, but this was an unusual time and it will not likely come again. In that 40 year period, Europe and Japan were recovering from a devastating war, while China was going through the cultural revolution. This made the U.S. manufacturer for the world, and there were plenty of low- skill/high wage jobs.
It was not normal.
For most of American history, those with low skills were lucky to have a roof over their head and food in their stomachs, and often, it was a bad roof and not a lot of food. The “American Dream” is an education and hard work will get you ahead, but somehow this was forgotten. Too many still think that low skills should still get them medium or high wages, and they ignored the warnings of their teachers to “get an education!” Globalisation now means that low-skill jobs will pay low wages, and the pay will not vary much from Beijing to Macon, or Seattle to Rome. It might be convenient to blame immigrants or high taxes, but the world is now a much smaller place, and if you’re in high school, you had better be looking at some kind of training for a high skill. If not, you will find yourself seeking out politicians and TV commentators who will be happy to tell you that it is not your fault, and offer you a discount on their latest book.
I highly recommend reading Thomas Friedman’s Thank You For Being Late. He goes into great detail about how rapidly the world is changing, and how we should react. I also suggest Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era. My fellow AGU blogger Callan Bentley has mentioned the Levitan book, and it is indeed a must read.