Co-authored by Grant Cooke
For three decades, I have been describing what is a major, perhaps a megatrend change in energy systems and their economics that impacts communities around the world. This emerging trend is what I call The Green Industrial Revolution (GIR). My co-author, Grant Cooke and I believe that the GIR is more significant to the world's future than the original 18th century Industrial Revolution.More importantly, there are now over 8 billion humans on the planet who are endangered by the past's greedy and thoughtless use of fossil fuels. Our children and grand children's lives are at stake.
For the last two years, Grant Cooke and I have been writing about this paradigm change which resulted in the book, The Green Industrial Revolution: Energy, Engineering and Economics. Published by Reed/Elsevier (late 2014). The GIR 570-page book is available through Amazon and other retail outlets.
In writing the book, we worked with scholars throughout the world to provide a comprehensive examination of what, we argue, will be one of the most transformative periods in human history. We describe how key regions -- Europe and Asia, in particular -- are turning toward greener, and more environmentally sensitive policies, behaviors and programs. NASA found, for example that 2014 was the hottest year since 1884 http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20150116/ Yet even in the U.S., despite the nation's past and now near future addiction to fossil fuels overrunning our common, economic and environmental senses, we found significant evidence that The Green Industrial Revolution is gaining ground.
While there continue to be climate deniers, dramatic changes in weather patterns and the costs of disastrous results, ranging from hurricanes, tornadoes, severe droughts, and now earthquakes in new areas of oil and gas exploitation and drilling are getting the U.S. The most interesting change about the U.S. is that the leadership to mitigate climate change is at the state and local level -- not at the federal level. City residents concerned about their community's air quality and environmental degradation are where we found the heavy lifting being done -- and successfully.
For example, New York state's recent ban on fracking; southern Florida's concern for flooding; and the entire east coast of the U.S. has had a 4" rise in the Atlantic Ocean over the last two years and is now a significant topic for concern for everyone.
This has never before been scientifically seen and recorded. Then on the west coast, California's severe drought, which is the worst ever recorded has motivated the entire state to support Governor Brown's policy push to have 30 percent of its energy mix provided by renewable energy systems by 2025. The strategy is to have central plants with renewable power generation as well as local on-site building owners get funding for residential to office buildings to schools and colleges to install solar photovoltaic at the community level. The combination of central power plants with on-site or distributed power systems using renewable energy systems are known as agile energy systems.
Other authors and researchers have written about climate change and the growth of renewable energy, but we have tied the subjects together as integrated systems within the context of a major economic and social transformation. The world experienced the First Industrial Revolution in the 18th century driven by the steam engine. The Second Industrial Revolution followed this in the 20th century powered by fossil fuel and the internal combustion engine. This 300 hundred year rise in industrialization, with the extensive amount of greenhouse gases emitted from the unrestrained use of carbon fuels has created global warming and brought the planet to a very dangerous tipping point.
Fortunately, the world is moving toward the Green Industrial Revolution, which is a carbonless energy model. With dedication and concern for the future, this new period of human activity will allow the planet to heal. In other periods of history advances in technology have transformed human life. Thus in the chapter on emerging technologies, we review some of the wondrous carbonless technologies of the GIR that will have a greater impact than anything that has come before. Remarkable green technologies, like maglev trains that are lifted and powered by magnetics are popping up all over the world, and we report on some of these extraordinary inventions.
The book includes a discussion of The Next Economics that is also starting to emerge since it reflects a need to follow a more "social capitalism" approach to understanding how business growth must be tied to societal issues such as the environment, natural resources and stopping climate change. These new economic ideas are based in different philosophical and theoretical ideologies than the western neo-capitalism model such that nations are turning away from the excesses of the pure market economics to those that are able to deal with problems on a global level. Today, some of that can be seen in BRIC nations, such as Brazil, India and China. Russia, however, is the exception.
Renewable energy represents little more than six percent of the world's energy generation However, it is gathering momentum and will rapidly become cheaper than conventional methods, particularly as weather conditions, economics and geopolitics push more nations toward it. Europe, for example, is ratcheting up its commitment to renewable energy in the face of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. Too many European nations are vulnerable to Russia's grip on the flow of natural gas, and they want to remove Putin's leverage by developing their own renewable energy. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shown the world that fossil fuel power has become too unreliable and too politically unstable for our sophisticated modern economies.
The same is true in the Middle East's chaos and the rise of terrorists whose financial base is threatened by the reduction of global demand for their fossil fuels. The extremists are not just trying to gain control of nations and communities for ideological reasons. No. They see the future being a GIR and that their sources of funding and wealth is being down graded and soon eliminated by a world that was for decades dependent upon them. If you examine nation by nation in the Middle East this pattern of violence directly results from countries whose supply gain of money comes from the EU and western nations demand for their oil and gas.
So, European and Asian nations are developing renewable energy as fast as possible. The U.S. needs to do the same. The clock is ticking and dependence on fossil fuels must end due to the stranded and long-term costs which do NOT make the U. S. or any other country "energy independent" due to fracking and shale oil resources. Renewable energy systems do however. The best thing about the GIR is that with renewable energy economics there are zero, or almost no, marginal costs such as accidents and volatile damage from accidents that involve earthquakes, tornadoes, trains, shipping and pipe lines.
Once the equipment is paid for, the rest of the energy is free, since the wind blows, the sun shines, the ocean and rivers flow and above the ground is still there for geothermal power. Very soon the GIR will get to the point of energy price deflation and it will be far cheaper than any other common infrastructure element needed for growth, families and business development that protect the environment while reducing climate change so that the weather is stable and predictable.
Clark, managing director of Clark Strategic Partners in Southern California has earned three separate MA degrees and a PhD from University of California, Berkeley and is an internationally recognized scholar, scientist, writer and speaker with now (2015) nine books published and over 60 peer reviewed articles: http://clarkstrategicpartners.net
Cooke, originally trained as an engineer and then earned a MA in journalism from UCLA, owns a mechanical engineering company and writes on range of topics connected to energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the environment: http://www.sustainableenergyassc.com