Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic writes—Jay Inslee’s Climate Plan Is Keeping It 100: The Washington governor wants to transform the electricity grid and new-car market before it’s too late:
On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington announced a major plank of his climate-focused platform for president: a three-part plan to reshape the U.S. auto market, building code, and power grid over the next decade and a half.
You could call it the 100-100-100 plan. Inslee would require that, by 2030, 100 percent of new cars sold in the United States must be fully electric, 100 percent of U.S. electricity must come from carbon-neutral sources, and 100 percent of newly constructed buildings must emit no greenhouse gases from their kitchens, chimneys, or heating systems.
He would also mandate that, by 2035, 100 percent of U.S. electricity be generated by zero-emissions sources. A carbon-neutral grid requires utilities to remove as much carbon pollution from the atmosphere as power plants emit. (This might mean, for example, planting more trees.) A zero-emissions grid requires utilities to use only power sources that release no greenhouse gases at all, such as wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric dams, and nuclear plants. […]
Carbon-free sources—such as wind, solar, and nuclear—now generate 37 percent of U.S. grid electricity. Under the Inslee plan, they must take over the last 63 percent of the grid over the next 16 years, Stokes said.
To meet that target, clean energy must add about four percentage points every year between now and 2035. This would be unprecedented: Even over the past few years of record-setting expansion for renewables, clean energy has grown by only 0.6 percentage points a year. […]
Yes, it’s true. The desperately needed acceleration of the transformation of our systems of energy and transportation, not to mention agriculture, is going take us deep into unprecedented territory. Anyone who thinks the climate crisis can be dealt with by a bit of tweaking around the edges, by slowballing new policy, by pretending that we can keep burning for another half century or so all that oil the U.S. is producing more of now than any other nation, or who thinks it just too darned expensive to make that rapid transformation really needs to get an attitude adjustment.
This is like no other crisis humans have faced since our ancestors emerged in Africa 200,000 or so years ago. For decades after the climate trajectory became clear, taking action on the crisis has been delayed, and whatever policy managed to get passed was watered down before adoption. Now, having wasted that time, we have no choice but to implement massive and what will often be draconian changes in how we do things, make things, consume things, how we live. Anything less won’t cut it.
Inslee’s timeline may feel shockingly unrealistic to many people. The proper question to be asking isn’t whether his timeline moves too fast but whether it’s fast enough. After all, climate change has a timeline, too, and it has been speeding up. Every minute of delay takes us 60 seconds closer to the time when nothing we do will make a difference.
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES
“For Children: You will need to know the difference between Friday and a fried egg. It’s quite a simple difference, but an important one. Friday comes at the end of the week, whereas a fried egg comes out of a chicken. Like most things, of course, it isn’t quite that simple. The fried egg isn’t properly a fried egg until it’s been put in a frying pan and fried. This is something you wouldn’t do to a Friday, of course, though you might do it on a Friday. You can also fry eggs on a Thursday, if you like, or on a cooker. It’s all rather complicated, but it makes a kind of sense if you think about it for a while.”
~~Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt, 2002
TWEET OF THE DAY
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2009—How Freedom Was Lost:
On Halloween night, 1948, a fog rolled in to blanket the town of Donora, Pennsylvania. What came from that cloud wasn’t the ghosts of vengeful pirates, or horror movie zombies. It was worse.
This wasn’t the first time the industrial town of 13,000 had been socked in by a brown, pollution tinged smog. But this time the air had a peculiar, acrid smell. Those who breathed the fog felt as if they were breathing fire. It scorched their eyes, their throat, their lungs. Still, Donora was a mill town. Workers squinted against the bitter air and went on to their jobs. That night, as people were walking back to their houses, some of them began to die.
Soon doctors’ offices were overrun and the hospital was filled with the sick and the dying. The fog held on the next day. And the next. A local hotel was pressed into service as an extension to the hospital, with volunteers serving as nurses. As bodies piled up at local funeral homes, the ground floor of that hotel became a makeshift morgue. Within five days, twenty people had died. Hundreds more were seriously injured with damage that would shorten their lives or affect their ability to work. A decade later, local papers still told the story of lives cut short.
The villain in Donora was the a toxic stew spit out by a local zinc refinery. It wasn’t the first time the plant’s fumes had turned the air around the town toxic, but this time a temperature inversion capped the smog. In the midst of the crisis, suspicion about the cause brought town officials to the zinc works, where they asked that the plant’s operations be reduced until the weather changed. The plant operators refused. After five days, the inversion layer broke and the brown fog blew away. Eleven of those who died did so on that final day. A local doctor estimated that if the weather had held another day, the death toll would have been in the hundreds, rather than the tens.
That Sunday, as the sky broke and rains came, the zinc works finally agreed to reduce operations. They went back to normal the next day.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: This was a Friday show from the get-go. It’s getting pretty constitutional crisis-y in here, so we opened a few windows to air things out. We have been here before, and maybe we never really left. Oh, and hey, just for fun, let’s threaten to invade Venezuela.