Does the recent climate accord between US and China mean that many countries will now forge ahead with renewables and other green solutions? I think that there are more pitfalls than many realize.
Pitfall 1. Green solutions tend to push us from one set of resources that are a problem today (fossil fuels) to other resources that are likely to be problems in the longer term.
The name of the game is “kicking the can down the road a little.” In a finite world, we are reaching many limits besides fossil fuels:
- Soil quality–erosion of topsoil, depleted minerals, added salt
- Fresh water–depletion of aquifers that only replenish over thousands of years
- Deforestation–cutting down trees faster than they regrow
- Ore quality–depletion of high quality ores, leaving us with low quality ores
- Extinction of other species–as we build more structures and disturb more land, we remove habitat that other species use, or pollute it
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