2020’s Will Be Great

December 31, 2020

Optimism is often seen as naive, but I choose to believe that, properly exercised, it is a force multiplier.

Above, Reuters has a clear eyed view of the unprecedented moment we are at in the energy transition.
Below, Keith Schneider, the Sage of Benzonia, Michigan, looks forward.

Keith Schneider in ModeShift:

There really is not a way to hit on a word, or even an assembly of words, to adequately encompass the tough, dangerous, and ultimately exceptional year that 2020 has been.

Next year will be better. And the 2020s promise to be a decade of real progess. During this decade technology and ecology will marry more firmly than ever to produce pathbreaking achievements in sectors that really matter— energy, transportation, agriculture, climate, resources, and manufacturing.

With Trump gone, a new era has opened. The United States is again seriously considering how to construct a true green new deal — the melding of ecological values to investment and industrial practices to build a fairer and more just economy.

The foundation is in place. Black fuels, for instance, are in retreat as investors move capital to less expensive and cleaner alternative energy sources. In 2018, according to an assessment by Tim Buckley, an Australian analyst, 31 significant financial institutions abandoned coal. In 2019 the list was longer, with 46 major investment banks and institutions announcing coal exits. In 2020 so far there have been 68 such actions around the world.

Oil companies evaporated as sound investment options. Oil and natural gas prices are near historic lows. Drilling activity has diminished. A proposal to build a monumental gas storage hub in West Virginia is slipping closer to irrelevancy.

On the other side of the energy sector, carbon-free power is seizing command of the electrical sector. Electric vehicles are poised to lead the market by the end of the decade, if not sooner. Responding to climate disruption is a top tier political issue, and not just in the United States. Energy, water, soil, and community-conserving food production practices are being adopted as central tenets of mainstream agriculture.

American companies’ commitment to ingenuity, science, and manufacturing prowess just delivered two COVID-19 vaccines in under a year. Amazon is remaking how the world operates with the same era-changing influence that steam engines had on sailing schooners. The same is true for Tesla and Google. Look at Linkedin’s news page. It’s a scrolling compendium of trends that convey hope for the world.

Communities are being redesigned to feature new kinds of mobility and accessibility. The shopping mall retail jobs-and-purchasing experience of the 20th century is being quickly replaced by higher paying e-commerce jobs, and all manner of goods delivered by drones to homes — and home offices — in the 21st. Cities are starting to feature more miles of protected lanes for walking, bicycles and electric carts instead of boulevards, highways ad parking lots.

That such breakthroughs are apparent now was hard to see across much of 2020. We were a nation sinking in turmoil and chaos. Our national will was shaken.

The November election confirmed our collective feistiness, our refusal to give in to the insanity of Trump and his allies. We’ll need all of that. The challenge of the virus will not end for months longer. Joblessness could expand. The events of 2020, though, prove again that America is a capable, durable, resolute nation. Good days lie ahead.


6 Responses to “2020’s Will Be Great”

  1. jimbills Says:

    ‘2020’s Will Be Great’

    My first thought is: famous last words.

    But, seriously, I’ll also say that hope is both a stimulant AND a narcotic. It depends on the person. I’d agree that hope does help someone who is actively engaged in achieving solutions. For instance, someone studying to be a doctor will be immensely helped by having hope that they will achieve their goal given time and effort. Hope is a stimulant for them. I also think hope is a stimulant for you, Peter.

    But, for many people, those who aren’t actively engaged in achieving a result, hope often serves to dull the impetus for action. A person may hope that will someday go back to college to be a doctor, but unless they are actually taking steps to do it, that hope is just used as a delaying tactic. They’re not going be a doctor just based on hope.

    The same applies to groups. Unless that group is actively engaged in change, hoping for change is just delay. That was why I thought Paris was deeply unsatisfactory. Its main message was “we promise to change”, instead of “we are changing”. Those promises were meager themselves, and since then, every major Western nation has fallen far short of those promises. Only China, as well as some small and largely undeveloped countries, is reporting it may be ahead of its schedule:

    China Says It Will Stop Releasing CO2 within 40 Years

    That’s good news, of course, but China is already the world’s top emitter in 2020 (2x that of the US and 3x that of the EU), and its goal is to peak by 2030.

    How did we do in the past decade?:

    2020 was meant to be the year of climate action. Instead, it crowned a wasted decade

    The above linked article from ModeShift is talking about market forces only (besides, the fact of electing Biden, which is step 1 in 1000). Relying on the market to solve climate change is more than questionable – I shouldn’t have to go into that. Suggesting that the market will lead to a climate change solution, I fear, is far more a narcotic for the majority of people than it is a stimulant. If they think a solution is at hand, why do they need to care at all? Keep in mind that they aren’t engaged as you are engaged. They WANT to sit back and chill about it.

    We need to be told we need to do far more than we are currently doing – because that is a truthful thing to say. We can ‘hope’ when we are doing as we need to do, instead of just sitting back and waiting on market forces to do it for us. That has been the Republican message all along, and color me skeptical on them being right about this. Market forces do seem to be moving in the right direction in several cases, but will they be anywhere close to enough by themselves?

    That said, Happy New Year to you and all.

  2. redskylite Says:

    While “hope” is a small component of “optimism”, to be optimistic you need to have a fair degree of confidence that a goal will be achieved rather than fail. As far as I’m concerned the goal is to keep atmospheric CO2 density below 450ppm, the universal “Dangerous Climate Change” mark yielding an average global temp anomaly of +2 °C. I have no hope nor optimism that this will happen during my lifetime or even in the medium term future.

    So masses of people will suffer immensely under dangerous climate change, that is for sure.

    I still have hope that some will endure and survive, when I see progress that some nations and governments are making, and at last taking the problem seriously, at least we have stepped forward from the latter part of last century, when people like James Burke were urging action.

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