Fellas, fellas. Right now, the renewable alternatives cost more money than doing it the dirty way. Wind generators are 2-3x as expensive as coal, solar has gotten very cheap recently but doesn’t work at night, and so on. There are technologies in the pipeline that might change those numbers in 10-20 years, but you can’t predict the future, so…
There’s 3 valid solutions :
1. Every major polluter agrees to pay the price premium to switch to renewables now. The European Union is onboard with this, the USA is wavering, but China is a resounding “no”. The problem is that without an agreement from every major polluter, switching to renewables just makes the market price for coal and oil lower, increasing usage by the holdout. If the USA and the EU really were to make a major transition, the price for oil would plummet, and China would suddenly have an economic incentive to use all that oil as inefficiently as possible.
So it’s a non-starter. Also, even if China agreed, then it would give other countries a huge economic incentive to burn up all that surplus oil…
Climate scientists have observed what happens after a volcanic eruption injects a bunch of sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. They know approximately how much SO2 it takes, and what the effects are. Apparently, the amount of SO2, if injected using a gigantic hose suspended by large balloons, is a practical amount. Cost estimates for the project, at this stage, are a few billion dollars a year. We’d just inject a fine mist of SO2 (or apparently there are more reflective materials proposed that might work better) into the upper atmosphere, enough to bring global temperatures back to normal, and we pollute all we like. The relative cost difference is chump change, even if it were off by a factor of 10*, it’s still vastly cheaper than switching to renewables.
Apparently, renewables are not as intractable a problem as you might think. I’ve been doing a little research, and, apparently, the wholesale price for solar cells is now cheap enough that it competes with coal fired generators. The problem is that for every watt-hour you produce via solar cells, you need several watt-hours of storage. The storage is currently too expensive, especially for the battery types that have a long lifespan.
I posted a thread on this, but, apparently, LiFeP04 batteries are a valid solution if they get about 4 to 8 times cheaper. That may sound like a lot, but they have already dropped in price by a factor of 3, and the cost of the raw materials in the batteries is a tiny fraction of their current sale prices. Once they drop in price enough, battery packs in electric cars with 300 or so mile range would only cost a few thousand dollars, and we would be able to install load shifting batteries in all our houses and commercial buildings for a reasonable price. The batteries would last 10-30 years depending on how deeply they were discharged and how often.