Earth Day 2015: Fix the Roof While the Sun is Shining

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Stanford University's Solutions Project predicts that our world can convert to sustainable energy.
Stanford’s Solutions Project predicts that our world can convert to sustainable energy.

Earth Day 2015 is all about climate change. Since you may not pour over the latest global warming news, we’ve highlighted recent local and global stats in the “skimmer” below. Though global warming is sobering, don’t expect just a “bummersville” read. Have you heard of the Solutions Project? According to this Stanford University think tank, a fossil-free modern world is possible and it is cost-effective. It’s good that someone smart is developing a sustainable plan because scientists say we don’t have much time; we need to cut fossil fuels by 40 to 70 percent in thirty-five short years. Last I looked, there’s no planet B.

Renewable is Doable

The Solutions Project is the brainchild of Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson. According to Jacobson, our planet provides five times the wind we need to fuel our modern world. The Solutions Project offers a state-by-state strategy for converting our country’s energy from fossil fuels to sustainable clean energy. Check out Jacobson’s TED talk.

Because the East Coast is ideal for offshore wind, it could be fueled primarily by wind (60 percent), solar (25 percent) and a little fill-in water power, Jacobson states.

An interesting point is that wind and sunlight are zero-cost fuels. Oil, natural gas and coal are carbon-based fuels that must be harvested from the ground and then processed into fuels. Coal fuels electric power plants, natural gas fuels heating systems and some power plants, and oil fuels transportation. When burned, these carbon-based fuels generate greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide (CO₂) and methane, that have caused global average temperatures to already rise 1.24°F since the industrial revolution.

What would a renewable fueled world look like? For one, the Solution’s Project predicts our world’s energy transmission systems and technologies will be energy efficient.  We’d drive electric vehicles. Buildings would be heated and cooled with electrical HVAC systems. Less air pollution would mean less deaths and sicknesses caused by air pollution. And, the strategy lays out how we’d pay for this conversion.

The Solutions Project’s plan may not seem so crazy when you read the climate facts below and see where our planet may be headed. 

Recent local global warming news:

1. By 2100, Baltimore is expected to endure 35 days over 100°F each year. We now average four.

2. Charm City’s average air temperature is expected to rise 12° F by 2100. That’s twelve degrees!

3. Large Sections of the Inner Harbor, Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton will be under water. See picture below 2003 Hurricane Isabel’s 8 foot storm surge.

4. Over 77 percent of Marylanders think global warming is happening.

5. Baltimore Magazine’s The Sea Also Rises detailed how Maryland’s coastal communities will go under water. “We should prepare for sea level rise to our knees by 2050, and to our chest by 2100.”

Recent global climate change news:

1. 2015 is already setting records as the hottest year. Ever.

2. 2014 was the hottest year on record since we’ve been keeping track in 1880.

3. To stay in our current climate, global temps can’t exceed 2ºC (3.6ºF) according to the United Nation’s Int’l Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

4. To stay below 2ºC (3.6ºF,) CO₂ can’t exceed 450 parts per million.

5. CO₂ is now 401 p.p.m.  In 1750, it was 280. (source: N.O.A.A.)

6. To stay below 2ºC (3.6ºF,) and not go broke, IPCC scientists state that global carbon emissions must drop 40 to 70 by 2050.

7. Obama committed the U.S. to cut CO₂ 27 percent from 2005 levels.

8. Obama directed power plants to cut CO₂ emissions by 30 percent. 

9. China, the world’s top CO₂ emitter, committed to reach peak CO₂ output by 2030. Plans to also hit 20 percent renewable energy.

10. Mark your Calendar for U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris Nov. 2015. Since China and U.S. have set emission targets, world is more hopeful for a workable treaty. 

The U.N. International Panel on Climate Change predicts we must stay below 450 ppm CO2. We're at 400.
The U.N. International Panel on Climate Change predicts we must stay below 450 ppm CO2. We’re at 400.

Climate Change Isn’t Going Away

Though climate change may seem a topic where ignorance seems like bliss, it’s just not going away. And, change needs to happen sooner than later. We’ll keep you posted on the latest news, and smart ideas for becoming part of the solution. We think you may have had enough for now. Happy Earth Day.

The 2013 Baltimore Disaster Prepardeness Study forecasts how sea level rise will impact Baltimore City.
The 2013 Baltimore Disaster Preparedness & Planning Project (DP3) used Google Earth to illustrate the actual flooding from Hurricane Isabel’s 8-foot storm surge.

Laurel Peltier
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Laurel Peltier

Laurel writes the environmental GreenLaurel column every other Thursday in the Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of UVA's MBA program, she spends her time with her family and making "all things green" interesting.
Laurel Peltier
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2 COMMENTS

  1. I want to give a shout-out to my friend and terrific environmental writer Lisa Bardack. She wore a sign at the No-Cove Point-LNG march in Baltimore that read, “Renewable is Doable.” Says is all, and it’s catchy.

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