According to new research published in Nature, most residents of the United States have benefited from climate change, at least in terms of pleasant temperatures, over the past few decades. Since the 1970s, winters have warmed much faster than summers, and the result has been more pleasant weather for much of the year. But summers are catching up and taking over. By the end of the century, most of the North American will be dealing with sweltering, life- and society-endangering heat in July and August.
If greenhouse gas emission trends don’t change yesterday, the mild summer trend will reverse and 88 percent of United States residents will be uncomfortably hot. The solution to this problem, scientists are saying, is money. The United States needs to invest in specific technologies to stave off the sun.
Investing in alternative energies is a no brainer given the immediacy of the issue, and wind and solar are the most established and most proven technologies we have. Many parts of the developing world are choosing to invest in wind and solar over fossil fuels to feed growing power demands. While fossil fuel prices continue to be unpredictable and volatile, alternative energy prices continue to fall — and exponentially so. It’s a pretty safe bet that the tech is only going to get better, and demand is going to get bigger, in coming decades.
Batteries and alternative energies are necessary partners. Because you can’t tell the sun to shine and the wind to blow when power demand is high, some sort of storage or backup is required for the system to run efficiently. Batteries are notoriously inefficient, but there are a lot of smart people working on the problem. When world-changing battery technology comes, you’ll want to get in on the ground floor.
If the world is going to avoid disastrous climate change, carbon capture and storage will have to be a big part of the picture. That’s because there’s so much fossil fuel infrastructure already built on the planet today — it would be hugely inefficient and expensive to knock it all down and start from scratch. But there’s hope in systems that can pull carbon out of smokestacks for reuse, recycling, or long-term storage. This tech is off to a shaky start, but that’s the thing about technology — it takes some time to develop, prove, and troubleshoot. The other thing about technology is that once it takes off, it tends to just get better and better.
Many scientists have suggested that humans could combat climate change by physically blocking the energy of the sun by, say, manufacturing clouds to increase the atmosphere’s reflectiveness, or albedo. These proposals are, so far, pretty speculative. But if climate change gets as bad as some say it will, Earth residents are going to be pretty desperate for a quick solution. If you’re into high-risk investing, this just might be your bag.
If you’re feeling skeptical about the ability of humans to get their shit together and deal with the climate change problem, you could always invest in air conditioning. Most places on the planet are going to be unbearably hot for more months of the year in the future, and the person who invents a highly efficient, highly affordable unit is going to make a killing.