Is Global Warming Worth A Billion Dollars a Day?

Photo credit: Flickr/Philppe 2009.

According to the Climate Policy Initiative, we're on pace to spend about $359 billion this year to fight global warming. That's roughly a billion dollars a day. Depending on which side of the debate one stands, that's either not enough or way too much.

This year's projection is actually a few billion dollars lower than last year suggesting that funding to combat global warming has plateaued. One reason for this is pretty simply, private investors won't fund clean energy projects unless the returns are there.

That said, another reason why the overall spend isn't rising is because costs are actually falling. This cuts the capital outlay required for a project. A great example of this is found in solar panels. Take a look at the following chart from SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR  ) .

Source: SunPower Investor Presentation

Not only have costs come down substantially, but the company projects costs to continue to decline. At the same time panels are becoming much more efficient. This is having a really big impact on the upfront investment of a solar project, which is helping to control the costs of renewables geared to fight global warming.

That said, some will debate whether global warming is a battle that even needs to be fought. However, one battle I think we can all agree upon is eliminating our dependence on foreign oil. This is where renewables like solar, wind and renewable natural gas products like Redeem from Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE  ) can really make the cost of going green worth it.

This past September America imported 300 million barrels of oil. Of that about 40% of it is still coming from OPEC. That has America on pace to send $150 billion to OPEC this year. While overall imports have been dropping, a lot of that has to do with America's oil and gas boom. That boom, however, will one day run dry meaning renewables need to be part of the story going forward.

It would seem to me that we could win both wars by focusing, for example, on our nation's heavy duty trucking fleet. While only making up 1% of the U.S. vehicle fleet, trucks consume 20% of our transportation fuel or about 25 billion gallons of fuel each year. By switching our nation's trucks to American natural gas we can lower the greenhouse gas emissions that affect global warming while also cutting the money we send overseas.

While not everyone can get behind the process of hydraulic fracturing to solve this issue, Clean Energy Fuel's newest product, Redeem, is one that's hard not to support. According to the California Air Resource Board, it's 90% cleaner than diesel or gasoline. Further, because it is derived from biogenic methane it can actually result in a negative carbon footprint, which obviously is a big benefit in the fight against global warming. Finally, it's sold for about a dollar less on a gallon equivalent basis making it a very cost effective option. It's an option that simply makes a lot of sense. 

There are many that think fighting global warming is a lost cause and that we're wasting a billion dollars a day. However, we're also wasting a lot of money and sending it to OPEC. So, I really don't see investments to fight global warming as being a waste, because those funds are also fighting our addiction to foreign oil. That's a fight that I think we can all agree is an important one to win.

How we're becoming OPEC's worst nightmare

I think we can all agree that we need to get off our addiction to foreign oil. While renewables are a key part of the equation, using more of our own oil is just as important in the near-term. That's why we are excited about sending you an exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report reveals the company we're calling OPEC's Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock that could help America shake OPEC for good. 


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  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2013, at 11:33 AM, peckbill wrote:

    Congress (Democrats and Republicans alike) need to get a handle on government operations and gain support of the American people. They need a few simple laws to fix a few important items before they try any big items like a Constitutional Amendment, 1) they need to read the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 and undo any reference that campaign fund contributions are nothing more than donations and therefore can be put into a individual Congressmen/women Leadership PAC (slush fund), 2) reinforce legislation to the IRS that the word “exclusively” regarding non-profit organizations is to be enforced as written and is not subject to interpretation, 3)add the following to any and all oaths of office for government hires, “I do solemnly swear that I will not lie to, steal from nor cheat the people I am elected to serve so long as I remain in this elected office.”, 4) make provisions to reimburse the Social Security Fund the 736 billion borrowed years ago and provide that no funds may be borrowed or re-aligned from that fund in the future. Accomplish this within a five (5) year period, 5) discontinue requiring the Postal Service to pay future benefits and treat the Postal Service as a normal business, 6) restrict foreign aid as long as programs within the United States of America, controlled by government spending, are not fully funded,7) approve legislation that will reduce and control costs of home and vehicle insurances so the lower and middle income individuals and families can buy a home and have a better vehicle to drive, 8) insider trading must be prohibited by members of Congress, their family and employees, and 9) members of Congress must not profit from any government subsidy deriving from any federal law approved by Congress.

    These are small things that can be done by House and Senate votes (it must be Democrats and Republicans working together) and a Presidential signature. These things are all close to every taxpayer and these are the items that need attention now.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2013, at 12:08 PM, comosichiam wrote:

    Global warming isn't worth a plug nickel the voodoo science that has been used to bolster a liberal kook agenda being sold to the world by government grant paid so called experts to foster cacamamie political ideas akin to socialism.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2013, at 12:29 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    People need to eat, they need a roof over their head, they need a table to eat on. To have that they need a job. In most cases they need a car that can get them to that job but also function as a form of vacation. The transfer of wealth, which is much higher that $360 billion, from the middle class to people like Al Gore is a much larger threat than GW.

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