How to resolve climate change of the planet at the lowest cost and in a way that is politically feasible
The Climate War
The climate war is a battle between those who want to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and those who do not. Those who want to reduce emissions are concerned about the negative impacts of CO2 on the environment, including food shortages, more severe storms, and rising sea levels. Those against decarbonization either do not see it as important or prefer that others bear the inconvenience of taking action. The U.S. government has an official projection of CO2 emissions over the next 30 years, which shows that the U.S. is not reducing emissions. The current economic and political strategies for decarbonization in the U.S. are fundamentally flawed. The Green Line is a projection of what it would take to fully decarbonize over the next 30 years at a constant rate. A simple federal law with two provisions could implement the Green Line at the lowest cost. This law would require 6% of electricity to be decarbonized each year for 9 years and set up a research and development laboratory to reduce the costs of decarbonization. The Green Line has two parts, with the first 9 years focusing on decarbonizing electricity and the following 21 years reducing costs through R&D. The current economic strategy for decarbonization, which encourages individuals and companies to reduce CO2 emissions, is flawed because these entities often do not have the ability to do so in the most cost-effective way. Instead, power companies should be responsible for decarbonization on a large scale.
Climate Change Math
The typical U.S. home consumes 10,000 kWh of electricity each year at an average cost of 14¢ per kilowatt-hour (14¢/kWh, EIA, May 2021). “Green” electricity does not emit CO2 and is primarily generated by solar panels, wind farms, hydroelectric dams, and nuclear power plants. Carbon-based electricity is generated by burning coal or natural gas at a typical wholesale cost of 2¢ to 4¢ per kWh. The Earth is an 8,000 mile (13K km) diameter sphere covered by a 60 miles (100 km) thick atmosphere. The Earth gets warmer if outgoing radiation decreases, or incoming radiation increases. Radiation decreases if it bumps into molecules in the atmosphere that deflect. For this reason, a relatively small amount of CO2 can have an impact. As we emit more CO2 into the atmosphere, the planet is likely to thaw more than expected, and this could lead to more warming and more thawing. In theory, civilization could move to areas that are more suitable, but this entails a race between a changing planet and the builders of metropolitan areas. If the planet changed faster than the civilization could build, there would be suffering.
The Decarbonization Act of 202x
The Decarbonization Act of 202x is a proposed U.S. federal law that aims to reduce CO2 emissions to zero over 30 years at the lowest cost and in the lowest cost order. The Act requires 6% of electricity to be decarbonized each year over a period of 9 years, and sets up an R&D laboratory to further reduce decarbonization costs. If half of carbon-based electricity is replaced with solar farms and half with wind farms, for example, then 53GW of solar and 32GW of wind would be constructed each year, at a total cost of $1.54 billion in the first year. The cost to individual U.S. citizens in the first year would be $1 per person per year for residential electricity. Factors that drive the construction of solar and wind farms include government requirements and subsidies, cost of green electricity, and cost of carbon fuels.