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.

Predictions for the US presidential election 2012

I can clearly remember it, the massive wave of enthusiasm that rolled over the United States. It was 2008 and Barack Obama was the hottest of everything hot. After defeating Hillary Clinton in the primaries he entered the battle for presidency not only on a democratic ticket after eight years of George Bush madness, but he also ran as the first non-white candidate with a real chance of victory. Hopes for victory for Obama was probably even higher in Europe than in the US itself. Finally a sane politician in the White House, no more Texas lone ranger lunacy and warmongering. At least we could hope so.

Now 2008 is long gone and Obama stands for re-election in November. He played high to gain his presidency, and now many voters have lost faith in him. The Hope campaign has been replaced by a plea for more time to fix Americas problems. Many of the promises that he made has not been fulfilled in the last four years. Some of his other policies has also enraged many of his hopeful supporters from 2008. Guantanamo is still going strong as a prison far from international law and human decency and unmanned drones kills hundreds of Pakistanis in the border regions with Afghanistan were the death toll of US soldier just breached the 2000 line.

In the opposite corner, the Republicans has rallied to the banner of Mitt Romney. A right-wing radical bent on dramatically reducing the role of the state in favour of opening up for business. He’s mantra has been that he “knows business”, backed by his background as a successful businessman.

Until lately, Romney and Obama raced neck-to-neck in the polls. But then the week of gaffes by Romney and some of his legionaries has caused a severe slowdown of the republican campaign. His now famous comments about the 47% of the American population he claimed voted for Obama because they depend on the state and fail to take responsibility of their own lives. He said this under a fund raiser dinner and was never intended to reach the public, but a video was published on youtube and all hell broke lose.

Now Romney are trailing behind as Obama has secured a lead of 4.1 percent point, at least for now. The national polling average gives Obama a lead with 48.7 percent and Romney 44.6 percent. I the two important swing states of Ohio and Florida, Obama keeps his leads with 10 and 9 percentage point respectively.

So how will the election in November turn out?

There is still crucial weeks of campaigning and TV debates left before lection day, but I dare give my predictions.

Obama will win, that’s my bet. He will win important swing states like Colorado, Ohio and possibly Florida and secure enough delegates to the electoral collage and continue as president.