This has been a good week for the climate and for the global economy. President Obama is now saying that the US economy may have begun to recover, although it will be a long and bumpy road. Part of this recovery is due to his stimulus package, which includes $80 billion for renewable energy and other measures to promote a low carbon economy, including simple things like larger scale public transport. There will also be considerable investment in solar power. Today’s article by Derrick Rehn (see President Obama’s green economics) contains more information.
There is also good news from the UK Government. It is launching today a strategy to expand electric vehicle (EV) use massively in the UK. This will offer consumers £5,000 to buy an electric vehicle and subsidise the infrastructure for electric-car cities. Whatever the source of electricity, it is less-climate damaging to run vehicles on electricity than on oil. And, obviously, low or zero-carbon electricity makes EVs even better. They also have other advantages:
- They do not produce local air pollution, which is very significant in so many of the world’s cities.
- They provide a means of electricity storage, which will make it possible to expand electricity from intermittent renewables sources like wind and solar power.
- They are quieter, making towns and the countryside more peaceful.
The need for urgent action is underlined by today’s issue of Nature. An article by Mexican scientists argues that ice sheets may be far more vulnerable than we believe (see Coral Records Suggest Rapid Sea Level Rise). There is enough water locked on Greenland alone to raise global sea levels by 23ft (7m) if it melted, which would swamp coastal cities like New York, London and Shanghai. Ice sheets have been expected to melt only slowly, but this study, which examined fossil coral reefs off Cancun, on the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, found that the water rose as much as 10ft (3m) in a matter of decades.