Guest post by Kristopher Jacks

The Stakes

The current Climate Crisis* leaves us with eleven years to reach net zero carbon emissions to prevent irreversible climate destabilization. We must act with the urgency of that limited timeframe and with a proportionate response to the threat we face. The threat we face is drought, famine, the displacement of millions and the death toll potentially in the billions.

*”Climate Change” is a phrase developed by Frank Luntz, right-wing linguistics expert, to minimize the impact of the threat we face from Climate Destabalization. We must own the language on this topic.

Only 11 Years Left to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change, Speakers Warn during General Assembly High-Level Meeting: https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12131.doc.htm

How We Fight For The Future

The primary opposition in Colorado to proportionate climate action is the Oil & Gas Industry. Despite the use of “Energy” in the names of these companies, it is imperative that we understand that these are commodity companies and nothing more. As these companies measure their success not in Kilowatt Hours but in Barrels of Oil and Cubic Feet of Natural Gas they are subject to the whims of the commodities market. In simple terms, if the price per Barrel of Oil drops below $50 per barrel it is no longer profitable to drill. We need to focus not on the Oil & Gas Industries, but on the market factors of supply, demand, competition, and innovation that drive the price per barrel and per cubic feet down. First and foremost we need to end each and every government subsidy to the fossil fuel industries, which the IMF reports is subsidized as heavily as the US military*. Those same subsidies can be used to help fuel the innovation and development of alternative sources of clean energy, and to help ramp up solar and wind production. It is estimated that over the next ten year the green energy sector will be an approximately $163 Trillion industry, hitting $2.1 Trillion annually by 2025**. By contrast, over the same ten year period, fossil fuels is expected to be a $75-$87.5 Trillion industry over the same time period. By focusing on these numbers we can demonstrate the potential of the industry, and the ease at which we can use money already being spent in better ways.

*Study: U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Exceed Pentagon Spending:
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/fossil-fuel-subsidies-pentagon-spending-imf-report-833035/

**Renewable Energy Market Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2019-2025:
https://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/venture-capital/article?id=85223

Renewable Energy Jobs

The big question is not whether or not the renewable energy sector creates more jobs, it does*, but how much those jobs pay in comparison to working in the fossil fuel industry. According to Salary.com “The average Renewable Energy Engineer salary in Colorado is $71,892 as of June 27, 2019, but the range typically falls between $67,647 and $82,858”** whereas according to Indeed.com the range for non-ownership positions  for Oil & Gas is $33,354 to $77,545***. These are also long-term, stable jobs, in a single location, with far less risk of injury or death.

*Good News for Good Jobs: Clean Energy Soars:
https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lara-ettenson/good-news-good-jobs-clean-energy-outpaces-fossil-fuels

** https://www.salary.com/research/salary/posting/renewable-energy-engineer-salary/co

*** https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Oil-Field-Salaries,-Colorado

Benefits to Farmers

Colorado can and should be on the forefront of renewable energy production. We receive as many days of sunshine as Southern California and our Easter Plains are perfect for wind energy investment. According to the UCSUSA the average wind turbine royalty is $2,000 – $5,000 per year per half acre turbine footprint*, and unlike fossil fuel royalties these last forever. It is incredibly hard to find the average value of fossil fuel royalties, which in itself is very telling.

* https://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/smart-energy-solutions/increase-renewables/renewable-energy-and.html

National Security and The Solution

The current Climate Crisis has been correctly identified as a nation security threat by the Council on Foreign Relations. They state that “Recent actions and statements by members of Congress, members of the UN Security Council, and retired U.S. military officers have drawn attention to the consequences of climate change, including the destabilizing effects of storms, droughts, and floods. Domestically, the effects of climate change could overwhelm disaster-response capabilities. Internationally, climate change may cause humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak governments”* and as such we must act. The safest, fastest, most beneficial, and most secure system is the Microgrid**. Microgrids can be built anywhere that people live, and anywhere they do not live but has the water and sanitation necessary for people to live. The two main ingredients are a source of renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, even biofuel) and power storage. Until recently, power storage has been the largest missing piece of the puzzle, but with recent developments in battery technology that problem can be solved. Tesla has recently announced their Powerwall*** which is absently a large cellphone battery that you can put in a normal utility room. As this technology becomes less expensive and more readily available, every home can be connected to renewable energy and have storage and backup while keeping a single point of failure from effecting the house next door or anyone else on the microgrid. This would further decentralize our vital infrastructure, while creating thousands of new jobs installing and maintaining these systems. Combine these microgrids with new Small Cell Technology**** and we can achieve a fully meshed, fully decentralized, PUBLIC Power/Internet/Cellular network that runs every piece of modern technology.

*https://www.cfr.org/report/climate-change-and-national-security

**https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/12/15/16714146/greener-more-reliable-more-resilient-grid-microgrids

***https://www.tesla.com/powerwall

****https://www.ctia.org/news/what-is-a-small-cell

About the Author


Kristopher Jacks
is Chair of Our Revolution Weld County, and a Member of the Colorado Democratic Party Executive and Central Committees. As a passionate Climate Activist, Kristopher is pushing for proportionate responses to the threat of Climate Destabilization. He is a husband, a father, and Colorado outdoorsman.