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TRENDS AND CHALLENGES

Change Has Been Slow 

What are the Challenges to Change

Expecting 5 years for such a foundational transformation may have been childishly naïve. 

But producing barely any trend shift in over 50 years, with all the knowledge humanity had at its disposal for even longer is also quite bizarre. Because 50 years after the first oil crisis, the fossil fuel free era seems still as distant as back then. The percentage of fossil fuel in humanity’s total energy mix remains about the same, and the total energy annual consumption has nearly doubled since.

As a result, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have vastly increased. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in 1973 was 330 ppm, only 50 ppm above the concentration before the industrial revolution. By now the concentration stands at 421 ppm, but including all other greenhouse gases, the atmosphere now contains 523 ppm CO2 equivalent.

That’s one of the symptoms of global persistent overshoot, i.e., human overuse of nature, for over half a century. Despite tremendous technological advances since, including in the energy field, with higher efficiencies, cost-effective wind turbines and solar photovoltaics, the challenge to move out of fossil fuels has become tougher. 

Today a significantly larger global population is getting a much larger share of its inputs from fossil fuels rather than biological resources. It is not obvious how the fossil fuel portion can be replaced at that scale, and even less how this is possible without additional damage to the biosphere.

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