Peak oil and global warming. Cause for optimism


Just a few years ago, peak oil and global warming were considered fringe ideas. Within the past year or so they both passed into the mainstream. When you think about, that’s not only quite startling, it’s also – dare I say it – quite hopeful.

Gosh, did I say hopeful. Environmentalists don’t use that word much, too often preferring instead to horrify those they wish to convince with scenarios of collapsing societies – when they’re not bemoaning how comatose the American public is.

These ideas, peak oil and global warming, are still quite new. But they are most definitely filtering into society at large. Wal-Mart now sells hundreds of millions of CFLs and probably, more than anyone, has mainstreamed their usage. A just-passed bill in the US bans the use of incandescent light bulbs after 2014. In 2006, no one thought CFLs would become so popular by 2008. But they have. And by 2014 we’ll be using the even more efficient LEDs rather than CFLs anyway.

Scientific American just did a lengthy proposal saying that solar in the American southwest could power much of the country. Others have figured out how to store solar power so it can be used at night. The CEO of GM says EVs will replace gas engines. Railroads are seriously studying using fuel cells to power locomotives. GE is putting $2 billion into renewables research.

And this is just the leading edge of what’s coming. In just a few years we’ll see huge strides forward in the creation of clean, renewable energy and transportation.

So, I think, there is real cause to be optimistic. Because increasingly, people do get it, and are working towards change.