Saturday, April 22, 2017

Carrying coal to Newcastle

In my classes, I often remind students that for all practical purposes, it is the last two hundred years that have made a huge difference in the human condition, and that the rest of this century will undergo transformations that will be of a scale even grander than that of the past two centuries.

All those pretty much began with the way we started using coal to power the transformative ideas.  This coal-based transformation of the world, the Industrial Revolution, began in England.  The same place where history was made this past Friday:
Friday was the first full day since the height of the Industrial Revolution that Britain did not burn coal to generate electricity, a development that officials and climate change activists celebrated as a watershed moment.
The accomplishment became official just before 11 p.m., when the 24-hour period ended.
Now on a path to phase out coal-fired power generation altogether by 2025, Britain, also the home of the first steam engine, is currently closing coal plants and stepping up generation from cleaner natural gas and renewables, like wind and solar.
“Symbolically, this is a milestone,” said Sean Kemp, a spokesman for National Grid, Britain’s power grid operator. “A kind of end of an era.”
I wish the coalman-in-chief in the White House and his 63 million toadies will get to at least hear about this, which their only news source--Faux Noose--will not cover, I am sure.
“The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition,” Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace U.K., told The Guardian. “The direction of travel is that both in the U.K. and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy.”
If not for the fucked up GOP, we would have moved a lot more towards a low carbon economy!

Not that the world of business is any better either.  Which should worry us when business schools rarely, if at all, include sustainability in their curriculum.
Even if we stop or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures will continue to rise for 100 or more years due to carbon dioxide emissions already in the atmosphere. Today’s business students who will be tomorrow’s business leaders are guaranteed to face sustainability challenges.
Tell that to the businessman-in-chief, when he is not busy grabbing pussies!


Ramesh said...

Interestingly I just finished reading the article on England's 24 hour "coal holiday" before I came to this post. Gentle Hint - Link to the article on a British newspaper rather than the NYT !!

Just ride the next two years. You guys will be back on track. I predict either the Senate or the House, or maybe even both will flip. Then the extremely destructive policies won't stand a chance.

The momentum to halt emissions will build up. If its delayed by a decade or two, so be it.

Sriram Khé said...

The House flipping ain't easy, thanks to the wonderful gerrymandering that the GOP has done for themselves. Even if borderline unconstitutional. In the case of Texas,it seems like the courts are even ruling it unconstitutional. The senate is more probable. Let us see what happens.

The only good thing is that the market is going in a direction that is completely different from the GOP's idiocy. To some extent, I am looking at the market as the savior here. Ooops, did I write that the market might be the savior???? ;)

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