Take on the Climate Change Challenge


Climate change may be the greatest catastrophe to ever threaten humans. Already there are record-high temperatures, heat waves, severe storms, sea level rise, droughts, crop failures and the spread of temperature related diseases.

It is changing at an increasing rate. Estimates are that, at current rate, it might take 400 years to eliminate the sources of greenhouse gases. We do not have 400 years. We may not have even 40 years to do what is necessary to save our grandchildren.

Leaders talk about the problem. But talking is not the same as doing. Leaders brag about treaties. Treaties do not actually do anything. Existing projects are scattered, haphazard, small and slow.

California is a recognized leader in countering climate change. Its astonishingly ambitious goal is to reduce California emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels within 14 years. But, from the standpoint of global warming, it is the wrong goal, pursued in the wrong way. Compared to the global threat, it is small and can have little actual benefit.

The Saudis are now building an immense solar project 10 times greater than any such project in the world. At 200 gigawatts it is equal to 25 percent of the U.S. electrical capacity and greater than all the wind and solar power facilities installed in the U.S. But the world electrical use is 30 times as much as the Saudi project and electrical generation causes only part of the energy-related greenhouse emissions.

On the scale of the need, even the Saudi project is small; the California goal is tiny.

We need to start thinking very differently. We must do better than scattered and haphazard projects. We can’t survive haphazardly. We can’t survive small and slow. We need planned, purposeful, vast and fast. Nowhere are such requirements considered. They are not even mentioned, much less discussed.

The world has the resources.  Australia alone has renewable resources equaling four times the world electrical use. That is just Australia. I have technical ideas of how the global climate problem might be solved. They address the type, size and speed required. If they were used, we might actually solve the problem in the short time available.

But the most important matter right now is that many people have the knowledge, wit and skill to conceive and manage effective solutions. The first and greatest need now is to find and use those people, their ideas and their talent.

There are ways to do this. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had a Grand Challenge, which, in a series of contests, inspired people from all over the world to develop robotic vehicles. It was successful in a very short time.

I suggest a climate change contest asking for ways to actually stop global warming and to begin reversing it within 30 years. 

There would be costs. There are various ways to raise money. For example, publicly owned utilities in the U.S. have about 150 million customer accounts. 

If these utilities could contribute just one U.S. dollar for each of these customers, that would be $150 million. If they would contribute just ten cents per customer, it would be $15 million.
Even 10 cents per customer should be enough to begin to take care of our dire and urgent need.