Credit: Joshua Sun on Unsplash
The price of oil, already high as output lags behind global demand, topped $100 a barrel this week thanks to “geopolitical concerns” (ie, Russia launching a war of aggression against Ukraine). High oil prices aren’t always bad for the economy–the US shale boom was driven by high energy prices and resulted in the US becoming a net exporter of crude and petroleum. Today is different. Domestic producers are more reluctant to expand output, having learned their lesson when the shale boom went bust, leaving many wells unable to turn a profit. Without that boost, all we’re left with is higher costs for consumers at the gas pump. More money to fill the tank means less money spent elsewhere. A full-blown 1970’s style oil crisis, certainly within the realm of possibility, will exact a considerable toll on economic growth.
There is a silver lining to skyrocketing oil costs: it sets the stage for a renewable renaissance. Recent advancements in solar panel manufacturing have made it the cheapest source of electricity, a distinction it achieved in 2020, amid record low oil prices. Today, it is now comparatively even cheaper. It’s also not subject to geopolitics. Indeed, the best way to live off the grid is to install solar panels on your property. Tell your local utility to beat it, you're energy independent, just like an increasing number of Texans.
Haters will argue that renewables are not ready to be the backbone of the grid. Like all haters, they’re wrong. A new study lays out detailed plans for a 100% renewable grid for all 50 states, using existing technology. The resulting grid would be cheaper for ratepayers, more reliable, with improved health thanks to cleaner air. This is all before considering the moral imperative to reduce carbon emissions. In other words, renewables beat the pants off fossils in an open market competition. When oil gets expensive, for example, $100 a barrel, the competition turns into a route.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, one of the most decorated generals in the war on cars, announced a new ban on through-traffic encompassing the entire city center.
Credit: City of Paris
Not to be outdone, Berlin is considering banning cars from its city center altogether, making it the largest car-free urban area in the world.
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