Is it time to be a little optimistic about the environment?

Picture of a wind turbine

Renewable energy from wind turbines and solar could be the gold mines of the future. Photo: Iamoix

 

The immediate outlook might not look so bright. Floods and a heat wave have swept Britain this year. Globally the average temperature has risen by nearly one centigrade over the last hundred years. Sea levels are rising and ice caps are melting away and more people than ever suffers from extreme weather. According to theWorld Meteorological Organization, climate change related disasters have taken over 1.94 million lives.

So can there possibly be some good news out there? I will try to give you some.
Renewable energy is on the rise. In many countries across the globe investment in renewable energy is rising. Spending on solar and wind power are increasing their shares of the market. The cost of solar energy is now less or equal to the cost of energy produced by from other sources in at least 79 countries. By 2020 more than 80 per cent of the world’s population could live in areas where solar will be competitive with energy from other sources.

It’s accelerating. Improved batteries and grids are altering the way we think of renewable energy. Electric cars are getting better and more competitive with their fossil fuelled cousins. You don’t need to drive an anonymous Nissan Leaf, when you can drive a pure-blooded Tesla S sports car. The number of energy consumers who are also producers, are increasing too. Investing in renewables has become very lucrative too. Shareholders in companies on Bloomberg’s solar energy index last summer can now pick up 33 per cent profits.
Previous climate summits have been ridden by conflict’s and lack off resolve. When the parties meet again in Paris 2015, hope is regaining some ground because president Obama has shown to take some leadership on important issues. This spring he imposed new regulations on the coal industry to reduce their emissions. The US and China, the two countries producing the most carbon emissions in the world, has agreed a series of minor climate deals between them, raising hope that new agreements can be reached globally.

Saving the world could be surprisingly cheap, writes the New Scientist magazine. It claims the global spend on green energy must be increased by $1 trillion a year, but a lot of it could be made using the subsidies currently given out to fossil duels. Such spending currently stands at $200 million a year. Overall, global investment in energy is already over $1 trillion.
Cutting subsidies to fossil fuels while supporting more accessible and renewable energy combined with rapid development of technology could see some serious ground being claimed by the green cause. There are definitely reasons to be optimistic, now politicians’ musts step up their game.

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Three years later

Since the bombing of government buildings and massacre at Utøya in 2011, self censorship has been the guildine o public debate. There has been no room for anger, no root and branch inquiry into the dark underworld of ideological racism by society. Can the lid final be lifted?

On this day three years ago the vision of Norway as a peaceful and inclusive paradise was shattered forever. The political aspects of Anders Behring Breivik’s attacks has been played down, leaving the police and emergency services in the spotlight of public scrutiny.

The secret police (PST) still insists extreme islamism is the bigger threat against us, despite the growing list of right-wing extremist attacks and the islamists current lack of such history.

Raymond Johansen, party secretary of the Norwegian Labour party recently broke cover, saying his party have gone to far in toning down Breivik’s politics. His facism, his rascism, his hatred of Social-Democrats, socialists and other people on the left he accused of intentionally letting Muslims into the country to break down “Norwegian culture”.

The Labour party played a decisive role in shaping the post-terror debate in Norway, but so did also the parties of the political right. Fremskritspartiet (Frp), now in coalition government with the conservatives, has been whitewashed by the other parties. Breivik was a member of the party’s youth wing before leaving because their immigration scepticism was not radical enough. The party’s anti-immigration and anti-muslim rhetoric has been airbrushed from history, as it would be “rude” to score political points on it.

A full confrontation and washing of dirty laundry in public will be painful and controversial, but it is absolutely necessary. On comment threads on news sites, forums and in social media, a strong current of racisms is still flowing, the same current from which Breivik emerged with his bombs and guns, on this day, three years ago.