How we get there
We need to change the way we produce energy to make fewer or no toxins and to reduce waste step-by-step as better technologies emerge to produce, transmit, and store our energy. We must change over from heavily polluting fuels like coal to cleaner alternatives like wind and solar. We must update our transmission system from the original 100-plus year old technology to something that is intelligent, that knows when energy is needed where. And we must develop storage systems that can smooth our spikes in demand, greatly improving the overall efficiency of the grid.
You as an individual have a role to play in this as well
This is going in some ways rely on a large coordinated effort at the national and global levels. Countries that have made commitments to any of these technologies have been successful in implementing them. It is in a big way a matter of aggressive national goals and continued support for those goals. Specific calls for renewable energy, large scale storage, and smarter grids can ensure that they get implemented. Strong standards for emissions reductions that we actually stick to can also help.
You as an individual have a role to play in this as well. Check to see if your utility company has a clean energy plan. Reduce your overall consumption. Try to use energy at off-peak hours (basically avoid just before and after a normal 9-5 shift). You can also try to push your utility to invest in more clean energy, smart grid technology, and storage technology. This will lower emissions and save you money over the long run. The big picture is also in your hands. You can demand that your politicians be a part of the coordinated effort to build more clean energy and a better system for moving and storing that energy.
Finally, economics has a role to play in moving us towards a clean energy economy. No one is going to buy clean energy if it costs twice as much. The good news is, it doesn't, but it can get even better. You can learn about what each individual technology is doing to try to become more cost competitive in the other sections in this link, but there are some general things that can occur as well. Putting a real price on emissions that contribute to Climate Change
by Putting a Price on Carbon
will do a lot to make clean energy relatively cheaper. We can also reduce our consumption to lower demand and the need for building more new power plants.
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