Each of these technologies is currently available, even on the consumer scale, and represents a way to significantly reduce the carbon emissions of developed society.
Unfortunately, one of the most common arguments heard against these technologies is that the cost of switching is too significant to justify leaving the current oil-and-coal-powered infrastructure.
While it’s true that the cost may be significant, this argument is misguided at best and disingenuous at worst, as the ongoing cost of not switching is far greater than the costs any other plan could incur. This is visible in a few ways:
1. Fossil fuel companies take billions in subsidy money each year.
According to a 2017 study,
Estimated subsidies (to fossil fuel companies) are $4.9 trillion worldwide in 2013 and $5.3 trillion in 2015… China was the biggest subsidizer in 2013, followed by the United States, and Russia, the European Union, and India. Eliminating subsidies would have reduced global carbon emissions in 2013 by 21% and fossil fuel air pollution deaths 55%, while raising revenue of 4%, and social welfare by 2.2%, of global GDP.
The numbers are vast, and clearly indicate that taxpayer money is being funnelled en masse to fossil fuel corporations who not only do damage to the Earth system, but profit off this model, too. Why are we still supporting these heavily polluting and ancient industries with taxpayer dollars?
2. Climate change is already costing us billions of dollars yearly, and will only cost us more the longer we put off tackling it.
According to insurance giant Munich Re, natural disasters cost the world a hefty $160 billion in 2018, and climate change was a factor affecting the strength of those disasters. Globally, damages amounted to $160 billion, which is less than the $360 billion in damage reported by the company in 2017 but still higher than the $140 billion long-term average. A third of that total ($80 billion) came from just four events in the United States. It was the fourth-costliest year since 1980 in terms of insured losses, and notably the fourth-warmest too.
The longer fossil fuel companies are allowed to emit without limits, the more money the world will be forced to spend rebuilding cities and infrastructure from worsening storms. Why not eliminate this deadly and tragic possibility by rebuilding our infrastructure intelligently now?