As Mike has said many times before in his posts on solar power: change is not linear.
That's something we should be very, very thankful for.
For years, we greens have urged our fellow humans to buy reusable plastic bags, ditch the water bottle, let it mellow (if it's yellow), ride a bike, save the whale, plant a tree, recycle and reuse and generally change their ways for the better. And it has, quite frankly, felt like an uphill struggle. Not only were any green lifestyle efforts in the West dwarfed by fossil fuel expansion in China in India, but if we're honest, most greens could only change so far: a large number of us are eco-hypocrites too.
There finally, however, appears to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Solar keeps getting cheaper. EVs are selling faster than hybrids ever did. cargo bikes are making a comeback. Large investors are abandoning fossil fuels. And, as reported by Cleantechnica just last week, coal use in China appears to be stalling.
This is no time to get complacent or assume change is inevitable, not least given alarming recent headlines about the rate of arctic ice melt. In fact, it's a time to redouble our efforts.
It's also, however, a time to focus on key points of leverage.
My own company, for example, has a largely virtual presence. We share a one-room (energy efficient) office with another business. We work from our laptops. We rarely travel. Our direct ecological footprint is pretty diminutive. When we first looked at paying for green energy credits, the number we came up with was—quite frankly—laughably small. But we're not interested in eliminating our impact. We're interested in maximizing it. So we pay for enough green energy credits to power all of our employees' homes, and we plan on expanding it as our business grows.
The real point, however, is it still really doesn't cost us that much. It's something that most businesses could easily afford.
From Verizon's 10MW of planned solar this year to Apple's massive investments in clean energy, we're beginning to see initiatives from corporate leaders that feel scaled to initiate system-wide change. Imagine if each of us—as small businesses, as individuals, as communities—started to do the same.
If we can raise millions of dollars for speculative solar technology that may or may not succeed, we can probably raise more for solutions whose time has clearly come.
If we all stepped up and started funding green energy, it wouldn't take long to push us over the edge.
We could then get back to nagging our neighbor about their plastic bags.