To be absolutely clear, the climate is changing, humans are the cause (primarily through the mass combustion of fossil fuels), and human civilization is responsible for the eventual outcome.
See: Global CO2 Summary — The Keeling Curve, Seasonal CO2 Cycles, and Global CO2 Distribution
Those who don’t believe that climate change is real (or think it is manageable) think the gamble is in the other direction. Switching the entire planet over to “clean” energy would cost about 20% of global wealth (to emphasize: wealth, not income!) — around £30 trillion. It would cost the United States about $5 trillion just for itself.
Furthermore, the beneficiaries of such infrastructure and investment would not exactly be the same companies which make up the current energy infrastructure. The existing companies (and countries, since many fossil fuel companies are state-owned) would face losses of up to:
- $85 trillion in proven petroleum reserves
- $31 trillion in proven coal reserves
- $468 billion in proven gas reserves
- > $5.5 trillion in annual industry revenue
- trillions of dollars in capital, obsolete physical infrastructure, market capitalization, and equity
Yeah, we’ll still need some non-energy petroleum products, and if old-energy companies invested in the clean energy sector then they wouldn’t lose their entire market value. But people have a very hard time agreeing to claims that they (and millions of other people) should lose everything.
- Infographic: How Much it Would Cost for the Entire Planet to Switch to Renewable Energy
- Tracking Clean Energy Progress: Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 excerpt as IEA input to the Clean Energy Ministerial
- World Reserves of Fossil Fuels
- assuming $50/bbl for oil
- Coal Prices and Outlook – Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy – Energy Information Administration
- U.S. Natural Gas Wellhead Price – Energy Information Administration
- List of largest oil and gas companies by revenue – Wikipedia
- Oil & Gas Refining and Marketing – NEC – Google Finance