As we start getting a little older it’s natural for our thoughts to turn to what sort of legacy we will leave behind. The homes we built, the businesses we created, the possessions we accrued. But we also leave a legacy as a generation — a judgment of our place in history — one that is sure to have a far more lasting impact than any of our temporal works.
As the saying goes, the Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones. Same for the sundial, the buggy whip, the slide rule, the… you get the idea — and you might see where I’m headed: fossil fuels.
In the time of our descendants, fossil fuels will no longer be an issue because: 1) there won’t be any left 2) they will have become too expensive to get out of the ground or 3) our generation will have had the wisdom to transition our planet to renewable energy, and giving our ancestors an enormous head start toward straightening out the environment in the bargain.
All of the partisanship, suspicion, and bickering that currently embroils our era will fall away and our children, our grandchildren and THEIR children and grandchildren will merely ask one simple question: “What did they do when they were given the choice to act?” Anyone now clinging to the notion that climate change is a hoax or a scam will be judged harshly by their own descendants.
And it’s not like it’s a tough choice. We’re at the first moment in human history where it is CHEAPER to simply leave it in the ground
According to Michael Drexler of the World Economic Forum, “Renewable energy has reached a tipping point – it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming… Solar and wind have just become very competitive, and costs continue to fall. It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”
And a recent report from the World Economic Forum, power generated from solar and wind are now at either the same price or cheaper than taking it from the ground in dozens of countries — and the list is growing rapidly.
The Independent (www.independent.co.uk) notes, “Just ten years ago, generating electricity through solar cost about $600 per MWh [megawatt hour], and it cost only $100 to generate the same amount of power through coal and natural gas. But the price of renewable sources of power plunged quickly – today it only costs around $100 the generate the same amount of electricity through solar and $50 through wind.”
The fact that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels will only make history’s judgment of any refusal to act all the harsher. We’re lucky. The decision is easy; all we need to do is shake off old thinking and resist bending to the will of entrenched interests.
Will we leave fossil fuels behind along with the stones, the sundials, and the buggy whips or continue on as we have for thousands of years simply because it’s what our nation has done since its inception? As if there’s anything “American” about filthy air, acid rain, rising oceans, cancer and respiratory disease.
Will ours be the generation that adds fossil fuels to the above list of anachronisms or will it be the one that turned its back on an easy choice, choosing instead to burden those who follow?
Our ancestors are not going to look at our generation and say, “Wow, they sure fought the lies of those liberal scientists.” They’re going to look at the filthy air and waterways and rising oceans and say, “They KNEW. They could have done something. It was even cheaper and they still pushed it off on us.” Not much of a legacy.
There’s still time for us to be viewed as being the FIRST generation to courageously usher in an exciting, clean future rather than the LAST to fight it tooth and nail. Like the death throes of dinosaurs.
Our descendants are watching.
Thanks for reading — especially you righties who are willing to check out other points of view.
Next time: Five things YOU can do to say yes to a renewable future.
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Multiple award-winner author Charles Carr has written thousands of columns and articles for The Union-Tribune, The Orange County Register, The Reader, The Californian, Parent Magazine, and many others. Thousands have attended Carr’s original theater productions at prominent venues throughout So Cal. He is also co-founder of Art Animates Life Films. More info and contact at charlescarr.com.