Only Government Can Solve the Climate Crisis

California’s renewable energy revolution is a model for the rest of America. The state is now getting nearly a quarter of its power from renewable sources - and in 2014 it became the first state to get more than 5 percent of its energy from the sun.

California is the world’s seventh largest economy, and just 15 years ago was facing an energy crisis. But just 15 years later, the state is within reach of meeting the goal of its Renewable Portfolio Standard: getting 33 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

In fact, the state is so close to reaching its goal that Governor Jerry Brown has called for a new goal - that the state get half of its electricity from renewables by 2030. Commercial renewable energy facilities in the state can now power more than 7 million California homes - according to the California Energy Commission. And that doesn’t include the California homes that have their own solar rooftops and other small-scale energy sources.

So why are other states - and the federal government - so far behind on the renewable energy revolution? It’s not because renewable technologies aren’t ready for large scale deployment - it’s not even that renewables are too costly

Those are just the talking points of the fossil fuel companies and the politicians they own.

Even among the few Republicans who agree that we need to do something about climate change - their sales pitch is that the so-called “free market” will solve everything and government shouldn't do anything.

But that idea is fundamentally flawed - because there’s no such thing as a “free market” and the fossil fuel industry and regional power companies profit from flaws in the market.

Flaws like the 5.3 TRILLION dollars that the fossil fuel industry gets from governments around the world. Or the fact that they don’t have to pay the full cost of oil spills across our land and in our water.

And the biggest problem: that they don’t pay anything for the 40 billion tons of carbon that they dump into the atmosphere every year or the cost of our military protecting shipping lanes around the world that bring us oil and ship our coal to China.

And what do they do with all that money that they’re saving by not paying for destroying our communities and our planet? They put lobbyists into the halls of Congress and throw millions of dollars into advertisements on every channel, they create organizations that promote distrust of science, and they buy underwriting statements or place their shill guests on NPR and PBS to sow misinformation over the public airwaves.

And that messaging has been incredibly successful: many Americans still doubt that we can transition to a completely renewable energy portfolio.

But the reality is that we can do it - easily - by 2050. Stanford researchers released a study just last week that shows how all 50 states can go 100% renewable by 2050.

The study shows how each state can adopt its own mix of renewable energy technologies in order to go 100% renewable by the middle of the century. But it also shows how many permanent jobs would be created in each state; how much energy costs would change; and how much would be saved in health outcomes. And it even shows how much land each state would need to use for building out renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy is working in California - and this study from Stanford shows how each state can make its own progress toward a renewable energy future.

It’s time to abandon the dirty fossil fuels that powered the industrial revolution of the 19th century - and time to power a bright new industrial revolution based on clean and sustainable wind, water and solar power. We need to incentivize companies to build out renewable energy capacity - we need to reduce barriers to homeowners who want to install rooftop solar panels - we need to create real incentives for communities and towns to invest in local renewable energy generation.

But we also need to cut the fossil fuel industry off from its 5.3 trillion dollars in global subsidies - and we need to make them pay the full cost of the damage they continue to do to our communities - like the Gulf of Mexico and the Coast of California.

Most importantly - we need to put a price on carbon so that the price of burning fossil fuels is in line with the real costs to our society and our planet.

Not only would a carbon tax make renewables more price-competitive - but it would also provide the seed money for states to undertake their own renewable energy revolutions. It’s time to go renewable now!


chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 40 weeks ago


patrick H.T. paine's picture
patrick H.T. paine 7 years 40 weeks ago

How is it possible, that you are a "news reader", yet never seem to actually read anything, and have a staff, who should by now have recognized your complete incompetence in everything you attempt, yet failed to address any aspect of it?

By 2050?????? We don't have that kind of time but not to worry because it can be done in 20 years or less.......but I'm sure your loyal fans will appreciate the repetition of your tired mantra regarding oil companies and lobbyists in D.C. and everything you have said a hundred times before...... and nice of Stanford to conduct a study that says that "each state" could produce it's own plan and path.

Today for example in the spirit of breaking news, attention was drawn to resistance in Florida with the following headline....

Opposition Is Piling On A Proposal To Increase Access To Solar Power In Florida

In addition to this, a few weeks back I made the attempt to inform you of similar difficulties in Nevada, courtesy of Warren I am afraid Stanford and you wasted your time because the "problem" exists" in every state, and it rests with the utilities......because they want control and the profit that is derived from control, REGARDLESS of the actual "source" of the "energy" that is used.

At the time I did this, I brought to your attention a book writeen by Keith Barham, who helped develope the 42% efficient "solar cell" and has written one of the clearest books available for anyone wishing to understand "photovoltaics" well as all the arguments regarding the shift to 100% renewables in "all climates". As you seem to have "no memory skills", you probably won't recall "reading" another story about Germany producing 100% of it's energy needs on a particular day.....and how the shift can be made quite quickly to 100% for various European countries whose climate is more northern than is titled the Burning Answer.....and Stanford could have simply read "his" book.....

You have overhyped yourself Thom, you have "no clothes" and the sooner people catch on the better.......ironically, for someone that uses the amount of power and control to insulate yourself in your "it's all about me world.", you have yet to grasp that all the problems in the world are about "maintaining" power and control......being the lessor of 5 or 7 or 9 evils will only work for so long......while you employ your fans as "shills" to support your delusions when YOU are in fact part of the problem.

to be continued

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 40 weeks ago

p h t paine -- I have a difficult time understanding what you are saying will have anymore effect on the political needle than what Thom is saying.

AnneMarie123's picture
AnneMarie123 7 years 40 weeks ago

I went solar (lease) a year ago and am VERY satisfied. I pay a little in the winter. The company that I worked with is Sungevity in California.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 40 weeks ago

Solar is taking off like a rocket in my area of upstate New York. I have a co-worker switching over in July....says the payment on everything is about equal to his current electric bill. So instead of paying the utility company, he makes equal payments towards his new solar set up, which will end up paying for itself.

Goodbye Carbon Barons!

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 40 weeks ago

It seems that what JFK had to do with his military advisors, BHO must do with his economic advisors--learn that their so-called expertise really lies in exploiting every situation for themselves, then defy them, put them in their place.

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 40 weeks ago

The "bi-cultural" speech that Thom mentioned is called code switching. I've seen a comedian talk differently to a crowd of just black people than to a standard crowd (probably mostly white), even though both shows were going to be televised, so that people of all races could see it eventually.

LeeWenzel's picture
LeeWenzel 7 years 40 weeks ago

Would even 50% of our energy from renewables solve our climate issues? I think we are working hard on a partial solution. The only solution I know are the Integral Fast Reactors such as from Argonne Labs and the PRISM project of GE and Hitachi.

Instant-RunOff-... 7 years 40 weeks ago

In fact only nuclear energy is capable of replacing fossil fuels. These studies by Jacobson & Delucchi at Stanford have been consistently debunked as being nothing more than fantasies. What climatologist Jim Hansen calls "believing in the tooth fairy or the easter bunny". For instance:

Jacobson and Delucchi energy dreams are irresponsible fairy tales by Alice Friedemann

The Energy return on energy invested of the only scalable renewables, wind & solar, is well below the threshold needed to sustain an industrial civilization with any sort of social services like education, pensions & healthcare. Read it and weep:

So wind & solar are really parasites surviving off of the energy gains of nuclear, coal, gas & hydro energy.

The only scalable renewables California has, wind & solar, are too expensive to be viable on only supplied 12% of California's electricity generation in 2014, and that relies on big exports of peak wind & solar generation, with large imports of coal, nuclear & gas generation to allow the California grid to function. 28% of their electricity is imported. Not impressive. Exporting the highly peaking wind & solar only works when adjacent consumers don't produce much in wind & solar.

Ontario gets 86% of its electricity from clean, green nuclear and hydro, with 62% coming from their own indigenous CANDU NPPs. Makes California's dirty electricity supply, mostly gas with lots of imported coal look pathetic.

Legend 7 years 40 weeks ago

The only problem that I see is CA with its inititive and clot is buying up all available wind power space in WY. They are putting in about 10000 MW (about 10 nuclear plants worth in WY and transporting the energy by line to CA. You get line loss with that kind of distance. Farmers and ranchers like it because of the income and Cows like the shade.

Legend 7 years 40 weeks ago

CA is also leading in electric cars. At Google in San Jose all of the close in parking has electric chargers and is for electric only. Also electric cars can use the HOV lanes which is a huge benefit. Even super markets have charging stations. Hopefully it spreads. Electric cars are a benefit if charged with renewable energy but not so great if charged by coal fired electricity.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 40 weeks ago

Why is no one mentioning hemp? Whatever oil can do, hemp can do better.

bnappi's picture
bnappi 7 years 40 weeks ago


While the title of your post is accurate, it begs the question. In a representative government, the government has to be DIRECTED by the people to take action. We still live in a country of climate deniers. So the bigger question is, how can so many people be so blind?

You start out highlighting California as a model for energy, including a recent recovery. But their energy crisis 15 years ago was pure politics. It had nothing to do with natural limits. If anything, the issue to dig into there is how they made the political change. On the climate front, California is a disaster. Their real problem is water. In 1971, a scientific panel made a presentation to the California government which stated that the mid 20th century in California was an anomaly. California had not seen this much water for the past 100,000 years, and should not establish water policy based on such an anomaly. The real question to California leaders should be: what’s their plan for California as a desert? Thus the question, can California deal with its water politics?

You then jump to the issue of the other states and federal government, and hit the nail on the head: the fossil fuel companies (plus electric utilities). BUT, the nail bends and doesn’t go in. Even with all the fossil fuel propaganda, the major question is why do Americans allow themselves to be so deluded? My reply is the same long reply I provided for your article on the control of the denial cult’s kool-aid.’s-kool-aid .

But, let’s look in the mirror and ask if climate activists aren’t also guilty of drinking the kool-aid. We are. The biggest one is MYOPIA - what I call Single Sentence Logic. You describe how Stanford researchers claim the U.S. can go 100% renewable by 2050. That would also create many jobs, and reduce health problems. It's a good goal and we should do it. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg and misleading not to see it that way.

People reading this discussion should be very ALERT and CONCERNED by what is NOT being said. Would this switch to all renewable energy in the U.S. solve the climate crisis? NO! Why? Because it is ALREADY TOO LATE TO SOLVE the crisis the way most people envision the word “solve”. There is already over 400ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. By 2050, it will be higher because more carbon will be burned getting to 2050. It will take hundreds of years for the earth to reabsorb enough CO2 to get back to traditional levels. During that time, global heating will continue to increase and humanity will pay the penalty. But it will not just be a climate penalty. We are rapidly crossing the tipping points for depletion of available materials: potable and irrigation water, soil nutrition, ocean fish. We have failed to comprehend the dynamics of jobs, and how automation has fundamentally changed work. We have grossly failed to comprehend the impact of the internet on confronting the wealth disparity. We have entirely failed to comprehend the impact of infrastructure destruction from the wars in the middle east and 20 million refugees pouring into western society.

In summary, being more precise, I agree that only government level action can effectively “address” the climate problem. But the push needs to come from the people. For that to happen, the thinking of people must change so they understand, CLEARLY and DIRECTLY, how coming changes can radically affect their lives, and that they cannot escape those changes. New discoveries discussed at explain why traditional communication methods have failed to achieve these changes.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 40 weeks ago

bnappi -- Have you listened to Thom when he had Guy McPherson on his show?

You write as if there was some certainty in the global warming process. It seems to me that everything about global energy capture has various degrees of uncertainty.

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