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Posted: 2019-02-11 18:29:16

We have a lot to do in not much time.

The Green New Deal is out, and it is so TreeHugger, so much to love. And so much Socialism! It's almost like Canada. It is a very long list of very good ideas; David Roberts of Vox does a great summary of it, calling it a high-wire act.

It has to offer enough specifics to give it real shape and ambition, without overprescribing solutions or prejudging differences over secondary questions. It has to please a diverse range of interest groups, from environmental justice to labor to climate, without alienating any of them. It has to stand up to intense scrutiny (much of it sure to be bad faith), with lots of people gunning for it from both the right and center.

But where do you start? What should the priorities be? What are the biggest problems we face? Let's start with a pile of graphs.
carbon 2014© Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy

When one looks at the most recent Livermore Lab carbon graph (they stopped doing these in 2014 for some reason), the two most significant sources of CO2 are power generation and transportation. That coal band looks huge and scary here.

But coal for power generation has been dropping for years, and will continue to do so. The fact is that both gas and renewables are now cheaper, and gas dials up faster than coal, making it a better mix with renewables.

Also, seeing where the CO2 is coming from is useful, and the supply side is important, but it is in response to demand. Where is all that electricity going? Where are all the people going in the transportation box? What are they being transported in? It's demand that drives the CO2 generation.

2017 graph© Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of energy

When you look at the demand side and see all the other sources of electricity, the coal problem seems much less intimidating. Nuclear, hydro, and renewables generate almost as much power. And look where all the electricity is going:

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