Modern society is built on energy usage, and modern society is nearly everywhere. Most of the earth’s 7.7 billion people are moderns in some way, as truly indigenous cultures have confronted, been subsumed by, fought against, or otherwise defined their relationship with modernity. Huge modern cities are in nearly every nation on earth, and life for all of these people is dependent at one level or another on energy — in most cases, burning a fuel to create heat or perform work.
As we all know by now, burning that fuel has created enormous amounts of carbon that go into the atmosphere and cause climate change. Climate changes are disrupting agricultural systems, weather patterns, and inhabitability in nearly all places, some worse than others. These disruption are on the cusp of creating enormous suffering.
This leaves us with one question: What do we do about it?
My answer: The Climate Change Two-Step.
That two step is simple: Electrify everything in your life and convert your source of electricity to renewable energy.
Even Paul Hawken, editor of Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, came to the same conclusion. What are the first three steps Hawken and his team recommend at the end of his book? (p.250)
1) Install heat pumps and stop all fossil fuel use in my home — cooking, heating, and hot water.
2) Get an induction cooktop to replace the gas range.
3) Convert to an electricity source that is entirely renewable.
Hawken, however, doesn’t go quite far enough. We need to electrify everything, especially transportation; in other words, acquire an electric vehicle (EV) as soon as possible. Do the same for other power toys or tools — tractors, ATVs, boats, planes, snowmobiles, etc. Make them all electric. And then power it with renewable energy sources.
The climate change two-step is the best way to cut carbon from our day-to-day lives. I know that many people say we all need to degrow and consume less. They are not wrong. But if you burn less oil or gas, you are still burning oil or gas and creating carbon. Likewise, there will always be people who don’t want to consume less or degrow. You can try to convince them if you like, but they will probably tell you climate change is a hoax anyway. So with this approach, you consume less but still burn fuel to create carbon, and roughly half the people are doing nothing at all to reduce their carbon impact. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.
The climate change two-step, however, is something everyone can do because the benefits go far beyond the feel-good impact of doing something about climate change. EVs are faster, better, and more modern than gas guzzlers. Heat pumps are cheaper to install and run when compared to traditional furnace or AC — by approximately half. Renewables get you out of the fluctuating costs of gas and oil including the surcharges most electric companies add to your bill when fuel prices go up. In short, life is better, more stable, and less expensive with the climate change two-step solution.
Here’s my new punchlist for the steps to take:
- Replace basic appliances and always go electric: Water heater, dryer, cooktop range and oven
- Replace furnace (and AC) with a heat pump
- Replace your car with an electric vehicle
- Go renewable — either subscribe to a solar or wind garden, or install your own
Different locations have different financial benefits of going renewable. I’ve heard from readers who said that in the UK, for example, payback on installed solar is 8–10 years, while in the US it can be as little as 3–4 years depending on incentives and the price paid for electricity. Installing your own, however is only one option. Solar and wind garden subscriptions are just as important and useful because subscriptions fund many large renewable projects. Either way works. In most cases, you will save more by installing your own, but solar/wind garden subscriptions create savings for most customers.
If you want to have an impact, commit yourself to The Climate Change Two Step over the next 3 years.
This post was previously published on Predict.
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