The world is in our hands

Climate Change Economics

by Climate Change Economics LLC

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Our glaciers are shrinking

Survival Guide for a Species
A Beacon in the Night

Editorial by Barry Piacenza

Climate Change Economics LLC - September 1, 2010

In this time of change mankind is faced with an epic conundrum of his own creation. How to sustain a global economy while at the same time lowering greenhouse gas levels to a point where hundreds of millions of people will not die due to the ravages of climate change whether they be from flooding, desertification, intensity of storms, and shifting climate patterns. Much scientific literature has been written on the subject from various organizations international, universities, governments, private science entities to show that anthropomorphic climate change is real. There is no doubt the argument is ended. The solutions must be faced if we as a species are to survive.

This short paper will begin to explore particularly at the regional level since nation states to this point have failed to create climate change treaties and approaches that are implementable.

A review of the literature shows a pattern of development on a global basis that cities and regions are beginning to create answers on their own in the vacuum of national leadership. That renewable energy sources are the only way to lead ourselves out of the fossil fuel conundrum known as climate change and its inevitable economic turbidity's and perturbations.

New York City is leading by example from PlanNYC panel on climate change and have produced numerous pamphlets and books regarding long-term planning and sustainability to help lead the city into a more climate neutral position. The city is looking at distributed generation to help manage its 2500 MW per square mile demand. Cities such as Rizhao, China have more than 90% of their buildings with solar water heaters.1 Toledo Ohio is building a solar industry and thin film solar panels all of this from 25 years of University of Toledo research and the creation of the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization with an influx of state funds. In 2007 as a means of making up for the loss of over 200,000 manufacturing jobs lost since the year 20002 in United States Cleveland is working hard to become the leader in wind energy. Having developed the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center the Cleveland Foundation contracted with Green Energy Ohio to perform studies of Lake Erie as a wind resource which showed Lake Erie was stronger than any of the 10 land sites tested in the state of Ohio. With over $1 million raised from various partners the task force selected the consulting team led by German companies JUWI (a wind developer) and Germanischer Lloyd was completed study in 2009 that did not identify any deal breakers. It is been calculated that building out this industry would require between 50 and $100 billion of investment per year over a ten-year period. The potential is huge the National Renewable Energy Lab estimates it is theoretically possible to develop over 100,000 MW of wind power on the Great Lakes.3 cities examining wind power are Longview and Vancouver Washington, Corpus Christi Texas, and Duluth -- Superior Minnesota on the Great Lakes.4 Texas leads the nation in wind generating capacity with just over 8000 MW or approximately 2.9% to of consumed power. With wind being an intermittent generator for power Texas is developing sufficient grid capability to build $5 billion in new electric transmission lines which will double renewable energy supply to urban areas in the state. ERCOT the agency that runs the Texas grid is also instituting a non-spin generation capability that can come up to speed in 30 minutes for reserve requirements to guard against possible grid stabilization from drops in wind generation capability.5 Nations with leading positions in wind energy include but are not limited to Denmark, Germany, China, and Spain. Utilizing the concept of distributed thinking on a global basis cities and regions are showing the way in distributed manufacturing, smart grid development, and intelligent use of the Internet. In the United States both House and Senate held hearings to discuss how to proceed in smart energy grid projects. The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates that reaching a 20% renewable goal by 2020 would acquire $60 billion in investment in grid infrastructure. The value of a smart grid system combined with astute mixing of various renewable energy sources can go a long way in creating a 21st-century energy mix in the United States that is renewable and sustainable. This will go a long way in reducing CO2 emissions into the biosphere the leading cause of climate change. The coordination and development of a smart grid system will need to be linked to economic development and workforce development so that skills and credentials and supply of capable workers will be online when the system requires additional new hires. The creation of these systems will need to be highly coordinated the development of the technologies is rapid with firms such as Bloomenergy developing high-capacity fuel cells that are in testing phases with various large corporations and power providers. Nations will need to move quickly with integrated energy plans tied to smart grids. When you combine distributed power creation, a smart grid system tied to the Internet with smart algorithms that can measure usage and distribution you begin to have the development of a 21st-century efficient, redundancy based grid system with multiple source capability for generation and distribution.

In order to build these systems in their most efficient method possible one has to look at examples already in place or being developed. Stockholm in the Hammarby Sjöstad district on the south side is an excellent example of a fully integrated highly efficient energy system which includes complete recycling of waste, and regeneration of power from that waste.


One thing that is becoming clear is that planning is extremely important and critical to the development of all of these systems. Although sometimes out of favor in political circles planning is absolutely necessary in times of great need. One cannot wait for the market systems to evolve and integrate utilization and implementation on a global basis. It is critical that we come up with a global industrial policy. One can learn a great deal from the examples in Sweden cities such as Vaxjö, Nörrköping and Linköping have been transformed into clean tech centers having spawned 230 technology companies employing over 5800 people in just five years. United States can learn a great deal from their Swedish counterparts on how to include and achieve synergies and sustainable planning. I heartily agree with Joan Fitzgerald that comprehensive planning, linkage and economic development are national challenges. If mankind is to save itself and all the other species on the planet we need to utilize these techniques quickly and as she points out very clearly not to exclude social justice it needs to be a primary aspect in planning. Climate change should not be paid for on the backs of the global poor, marginally poor or disabled.

1Local Power: Tapping Distributed Energy in 21st-Century Cities, Scientific American June 15, 2010

2Emerald Cities Urban Sustainability and Economic Development -- Joan Fitzgerald, pg 56

3Emerald Cities Urban Sustainability and Economic Development -- Joan Fitzgerald, pgs60-62

4Emerald Cities Urban Sustainability and Economic Development -- Joan Fitzgerald, pgs 65-67

5Emerald Cities Urban Sustainability and Economic Development -- Joan Fitzgerald, pg 70