I love this piece, I really do.
Take the member of the renewables/efficiency/conservation family, that I know best: solar. The manufacturing costs of solar photovoltaic cells are coming down at nearly 20% every time the global industry doubles in capacity, and that is happening every two years at present. Solar PV manufacturing costs are, in fact, cheaper today than retail electricity in some markets, and by 2010 will be cheaper than today\’s electricity in most developed country markets even if the price of retail electricity grows only slightly.
OK, great. Solar is getting cheaper quickly. An excellent thing too. So we should all wait until 2011 or so and then we\’ll all switch quite happily as it\’ll be cheaper. Great.
You\’ll want to note that one of the reasons that Bjorn Lomborg was so pilloried for his book The Skeptical Environmentalist was that apropos climate change he said, well, really, we don\’t need to do anything because by 2030, 2040, solar will be cheaper and we\’ll all go and use it. Here we\’re told that Lomborg\’s mistake was in being too pessimistic. Hey, go figure!
But much, much more amusing that that is this. In the SRES, those economic models which then feed through into the IPCC scenarios for emissions, a basic assumption is that solar becomes cheaper by 30% per decade. Here we\’re told it\’s 20% every two years. Or 250%* per decade. So things are vastly better than the IPCC says: we\’ll all be switching to solar in just a few years now, we don\’t need Kyoto, we don\’t need to restict anything. Just install the cheapest power systems from 2011 on and we\’ll be fine.
You know, we really ought to thank you Jeremy. You\’ve just told us the whole global warming thing is solved. So ta very much!
* yes, yes, I know it doesn\’t work this way. About an 80% or so reduction in price each decade.