The Earth’s climate is changing, and human activity is the main cause. 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming trends are clear and “extremely likely” due to human activities, most prominently the rising emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a powerful greenhouse gas that blocks heat from escaping into the atmosphere, and the dramatic increase of our use of carbonaceous fossil fuels like coal and oil since the 19th century has increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from 280 to over 400 parts per million (ppm) – enough to shape the climate of the entire planet.
Renewable Energy and Climate Change Mitigation
If that scientific consensus isn’t convincing enough, we’re seeing the dangerous impacts of climate change more clearly every year with our own eyes. This past fall, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria wreaked unprecedented devastation on communities across Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, with the impacts of each heightened by climate change and the accompanying warming of ocean waters. In California, we’ve seen a season of deadly wildfires that also bear a strong climate change signature from ongoing drought conditions.
To prevent truly catastrophic climate change and preserve our planet for future generations, we need to dramatically and rapidly reduce CO2 emissions from the burning fossil fuels. While there are a range of options that can contribute to this goal, the most important and wide-ranging solution is the replacement of fossil fuels with zero-carbon renewable energy.
The IPCC released a special report in 2012 examining the role that renewables can play in climate change mitigation scenarios, titled “Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.” Under the scenarios explored in this report, stabilizing global atmospheric concentrations below 440 ppm required a median increase in renewable energy use of 248 exajoules (EJ) per year by 2050, and potentially as much as 428 EJ. For a sense of scale, in 2014 the world produced 66 EJ of renewable energy – so we’ve got a long way to go!
Is increasing our use of renewable energy by a factor of four or more in the coming decades a huge task? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely – especially given the kinds of skyrocketing growth we’ve seen in wind and solar power over the past few years! But if we’re going to save the climate and preserve our planet for future generations, we’ll need everyone to pitch in.
Doing Your Part With Mosaic
Empowering everyday people to join in the fight against climate change has been a core part of Mosaic’s mission from day one – click here to connect with a home improvement professional to see how to retrofit your home to generate your own clean energy.