This past Memorial Day weekend, as I thought about the sacrifices of those who served to protect us, I also stopped by a gas station and put gasoline in the tank of my 2014 Honda CRV. My car spends most of the time between Labor Day and Memorial Day parked in a garage, but on Memorial Day weekend, I begin my weekly drives to Long Beach, New York, and join the rest of America fighting traffic. My home, office and car are all powered by fossil fuels, and that is true for nearly everyone I know. It is important to acknowledge our dependence and not pretend it does not exist. Simultaneously, we must also understand that the transition away from fossil fuels has begun and must accelerate.
Last week we saw several dramatic developments that tell us that the fossil fuel era is coming to a gradual end. The issue is: how gradual? Last week the rate of change accelerated, and perhaps we are reaching a tipping point. I believe that fossil fuel companies will need to become energy companies or they will go out of business. As Somni Sengupta reported in the New York Times, the first event, which she termed a turning point, was a judicial action in Europe:
Sengupta’s piece also reported on a court case in Australia where a coal mine was permitted to expand operations but was told by the court to try to avoid injuring children, thus acknowledging the long-term negative impact of fossil fuels.