The major catastrophe facing the world today is not natural, but human induced climate change. The problem for acting on it is the fact that it is slower than a tsunami. Carbon emissions from coal burning and autos are threatening the polar ice caps and glaciers. Do I care if the problem is only the polar bears? A big problem would be slackened flow of India’s rivers used for irrigation and thus food production. And, perhaps rising sea levels flooding heavily populated coastal low lands. Acid rain released with burning coal is destroying our forests.
No more coal-burning electric generation? Could we do it Now? In World War II we turned our industrial capacity to the production of planes, tanks, etc. We simply said, no more production of private cars. The prohibition lasted almost three years. When we saw a clear and present danger to world survival, we acted. Instead of present danger, catastrophe is a few years off. But, if we are to reverse present trends in time to avert catastrophe, we need to act now.
1. No new coal-burning power plants.
2. No more cars with less than 50 m.p.g.
3. No more additions to the inter-state highway system, but rather a massive building of high-speed rail.
4. Massive and immediate development of a national electric grid to carry electricity from areas of solar and wind energy to populations centers.