In November, Syria joined the Paris Climate Accord. As a result, the United States is now the only country in the world that has rejected the global pact. Despite this embarrassing news, there is reason for optimism in the effort to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. In particular, 7 major trends provide hope that things could move in the right direction.
First, energy efficiency is on the rise. Making our homes and businesses require less energy to operate makes a huge difference.
Second, the cost of solar and wind technologies continues to fall driving tremendous growth of those renewable energy sources. Most new power installations are now renewables.
Third, coal, the dirtiest power source, is dying. The main reason is that natural gas and solar and wind power are now cheaper. The market will determine the winners.
Fourth, electric cars are on the rise. Sales are increasing and every major car maker is moving towards vehicle electrification.
Fifth, batteries are getting better and getting cheaper. They are essential for vehicle electrification and to store energy from solar and wind power plants.
Sixth, there is a great deal of progress in creating desirable plant-based foods that take the place of meat and dairy products. Livestock farming is a major source of methane in the atmosphere and reducing our dependence on meat is a step in the right direction.
And finally, seventh, the role of deforestation in climate change is being taken seriously. We are finally trying to restore forests that are essential in taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.
It is unknown whether we can move fast enough to avoid the worst of climate change, but at least these megatrends are providing some cause for optimism.
Photo, posted March 2, 2012, courtesy of Flickr.