The pandemic of 2020 is a horrific thing. We can only hope the trail of deaths doesn’t extend into 2021. There are no guarantees. If we don’t search for knowledge during this time, it will all be for naught. I believe there are many lessons to be learned during these tough times. I am going to expound on just one today. I’m a realist (sort of). This isn’t going to happen, but it should.
One thing the pandemic has shown the world is we are capable of emitting far fewer greenhouse gases and carbon pollution than we have been. Sure, it’s been painful, but we now know we can live through a little pain, especially if we do a little more planning than we have. Most of the models that purport to “solve” global warming show a 20-30 year timeline for full implementation. This is what I think: We should calculate what level of emissions the world can assimilate and set a target of 95% of that. I believe we should claw back some of what we have already lost. We should re-energize and strengthen the Paris Climate Accord. We should set up enforcement for noncompliance. Emission “credits” could be distributed to the various countries of the world based on population. Countries that can come in below their target can sell their credits to other countries. Additional credits can be earned through scientifically proven methods such as planting more trees. Conversely, credits would be reduced for the destruction of forests, etc. that mitigate emissions. The timeline should be reduced to three years. Yes, there will be much scrambling to stay on track. Whoever said saving the planet would be easy.
We could start by placing a worldwide moratorium on new coal-fired plants. Then we could set up a schedule for decommissioning the existing ones. In January I purchased a used hybrid vehicle when I thought I would be driving more. It gets 50 MPG. Does anybody need a one-ton, 4 wheel drive pickup for a solo, 20 mile commute to work? The needs of our planet do not extend to that kind of “entitlement”. This will be hugely disruptive to many industries such as aviation, autos, etc. These are just a couple of examples of where progress can be made. Humans are very resilient and resourceful. If we start with the necessary goal and work backward to provide ourselves with the best lives possible, we will succeed, and we will have a much better place to live. We could use tax credits and subsidies to spread the pain. There are alternative energy sources available and new ones can be developed.
This analysis is very incomplete, I just want to start some thought. I know we may never have the political will to make this happen, but a guy can dream.