Climate change and right wing populism

Torstai 10.8.2023 klo 11.18 - Mikko Nikinmaa

With the hottest July ever in the world, heat spells in all continents of the northern hemisphere simultaneously, devastating wildfires, floods and droughts everywhere, one would think that people would finally accept that climate change is here already, and that mankind needs to put significant effort into preventing it from getting worse.

But no, in the minds of right-wing populists, climate change is left-wing hoax. No matter what the evidence says, no matter what the news are, no matter what the scientists say. In USA the conservative thinktank Heritage Foundation has given out a book Project 25, which would essentially scrap all the climate plans of the present government if a Republican president were elected in 2024. Needless to say that it would be a catastrophe for world’s climate, as USA is one of the countries with the greatest carbon dioxide emissions per capita. As compared to European Union, the emissions per person are roughly double, and as compared to world average more than four times greater. (Because of its large population, China is the country with the largest emissions in the world. However, its per capita emissions are about the same as EU’s). Similarly, the Finnish populistic right wing party – presently in government – has opposed “the green shift” of energy production and industrial production claiming that it is too expensive for the taxpayer. At the same time, the calculations of industry show that “green shift” would generate unprecedent amount of foreign investments in Finland. These examples indicate that right-wing populism has started treating climate change as “culture war” issue. To support actions against climate change makes you to belong to the left (or greens which is just as bad).

Because climate has become an issue in culture war, little can be done to change the opinions of right-wing populists. The only way to prevent the devastating implications their policy actions is to make sure that they cannot rise to power, or if they are in power, to make sure that they lose the power in next elections.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: culture war, green shift, carbon dioxide footprint

Solar power cheaper than coal

Maanantai 3.7.2017 klo 10.25 - Mikko Nikinmaa

It has now happened. Solar energy has become cheaper than coal - at least for places where old coal power plants do not exist. The decrease in relative price of energy produced using renewable sources has surprised everyone. One needs to go back only 20 years, when "energy experts" said that renewable energy (referring mainly to solar and wind energy) will always be so expensive that its commercial use will not be feasible without marked financial state support.

The fact that solar energy has now become quite cheap has important ramifications. For example, oil and gas prices cannot increase markedly, since one is always able to use alternative energy sources instead, if the price is too high. Nuclear energy with its huge building costs is not an attractive alternative. And imagine if even a half of the 10 billion € now needed to build a nuclear power plant would be used to research on how to store energy, which is the major problem with solar power.

Yes, storing energy so that the solar energy would be usable in the dark times is still not solved satisfactorily. Plants do it, and the energy stored is the basis of fossil fuels. This actually shows that energy storage is a solvable problem. And if even a half of funds needed to build a nuclear power plant were directed to this type of applied research, the result would likely to enable us to produce cheap, clean energy, which is usable overnight - for the benefit of mankind.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, energy production, fossil fuels. carbon dioxide footprint