Posted by: ericgrimsrud | December 9, 2020

A 100% Solution to global warming

We now know that we are running out of time for fixing the our out-of-control forces (mainly greenhouse gases) that are driving a catastrophic level of warming on our planet.  To date, suggestions for corrections of global warming have focused on a few, but not all of things we need to do.  A new book just published is therefore novel in that it attempts to identify everything that we must do by the year 2050 in order to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. No other single plan has addressed the full scope of the problem as this book does.

In The 100% Solution, Solomon Goldstein-Rose – a young (age 27) climate activist and a former Massachusetts state representative – makes clear what needs to happen if we are to hit the 2050 target just 30 years hence. His plan will require manufacturing booms we must spur, novel inventions we must come up with, the amount of CO2 we’ll have to sequester from the atmosphere, and much more. He also shows us the more prosperous and equitable world we could build by uniting the efforts of activists, industries, governments, scientists, and voters to get this formidable global task accomplished.

This is the guide we’ve been waiting for. It calls for a WWII-scale mobilization intensify–especially among youth activists. This book arms us with specific demands, sets the stakes for what our leaders must achieve, and suggests that with this level of comprehensive thinking we can still take back our future. This plan is for a 100% correction and not just one aiming at a 10% correction as most other plans do. Since 10% correction plans will not stop global warming, we must not allow them to put the 100% plan on the backburner. Given the limited time allowed for solutions the author shows that we must get on a 100% plan immediately rather than waiting for the effects of warming to become more obvious.

The basic elements of the 100% plan include the five following five pillars. 

  1. Create vast amounts of clean electrical power.  All means of producing electrical power without emission of CO2 must be perfected and amplified to the extent that electrical power is increased several times that of today.  These methods include hydroelectric, solar, wind, fossil fuel combustion with carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear, geothermal and other new methods of generating and storing clean electrical energy.  Along with the above methods of energy production, methods of energy storage will have to also be expanded.  These will include both battery-based systems and physical systems such as hydro pumping near river dams.
  2. Electrify all equipment that can be electrified. For example, support the further development of electric cars, but not cars that still use fossil fuels even though they offer improved efficiency.  The goal is to reach a point of no emissions by 2050.  Don’t let mere increases in efficiencies be the goal.   
  3. Create synthesized fuels for things that can’t be electrified.  An example of this is long-distance travel by aircraft. For such travel we need to develop alternate carbon-neutral fuels that do not result in greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Implement various non-energy shifts, especially in agriculture. There are many carbon intensive technologies not related to energy production that we must change to other less carbon intensive ones.  An example of this is the beef industry which is very carbon intensive.  A change to more vegetable-based food sources will significantly decrease CO2 emissions. 
  5. Via carbon sequestration, make up for remaining emissions by reducing atmospheric CO2 at rate equal to or greater than ongoing emissions.  We can’t expect to reduce all greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.  Therefore, in order to create zero or negative net emissions from that time forward, we must then be pulling an equal amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere and permanently storing it.

Other important points of the plan:

  1. The majority of future emissions will come from 2nd tier countries such as India which has achieved modern life styles using the cheapest sources of energy available to them – that is, coal.
  2. In order for them to move away from all fossil fuels, the 1st tier countries must help other nations develop new technologies that will offer cheaper-than-coal alternatives for energy production.  We cannot expect them to ignore coal, their cheapest source of energy, merely for altruistic reasons.
  3.  We cannot reach our 100% goal by simply making our fossil fuel methods “more efficient”, thereby allowing the continued use of fossil fuels.
  4.  We must instead develop methods that do not depend on fossil fuels. All of this means that new concepts and technologies need to be discovered and expanded if we hope to reach the 100% Solution by 2050.
  5. Also note that we cannot afford to delay the proposed due date of 2050 because of the inevitability of irreversible global CO2 emissions caused by our constantly increasing global temperatures. 
  6.  We must overcome our unwarranted fear of nuclear reactors which can provide a dependable source of continuous power not matched by any other power source.
  7. We must impose a Carbon Fee for the use of fossil fuels for energy production.  We can no longer afford to let fossil fuel industries use our atmosphere as a free-of-charge waste dump for CO2 emissions.  This will create a level playing field in which non-carbon-polluting methods of energy production will be more competitive with the fossil fuel methods.  

Solving climate change is more important for our future than tackling many other worthwhile causes, because so many issues such as poverty, disease, and immigration politics, cannot improve if climate change worsens. The point of The 100% Solution is to tie together previous research and knowledge into a framework that gives us a comprehensive perspective on what is needed so that we can be more focused and effective in our advocacy. The transition to a new energy system described here is complex, to be sure, and requires no less than a full replacement of the fossil-fuel-driven era we have enjoyed throughout the last two centuries. With respect to the future well-being of the humans living on Earth, however, it appears no other options for a 100% solution have been envisioned so far.  


  1. Consider writing a column called “Tid Bits for Nitwits”. Climate change is too complex. Have more fun. Enjoy life. I played 18 holes of golf in Zumbrota, MN today, Dec. 9. Going again tomorrow — high temp will be 47 degrees. Things are getting warmer here in Minnesota. Nice, but obviously not good long term.
    Climate change combined with virus situation makes people anxious. People like control over their lives. Government telling people what to do may not fly.

    Response to Dave, You are probably right, but not if you are thinking of your grandkids. Say hello to our Pres if you happen to see him on the golf course. Eric

  2. “Tid Bits for Nitwits” does have a nice ring, and I’m all for the fun part, Dave, but we can’t forget the “deplorables” debacle! As for the complexity, I think using “our atmosphere as a free-of-charge waste dump for CO2 emissions” is pretty straightforward. It’s just that fossil fuel industry personnel – backed by way too much $ & power – decided 30+ yrs ago to bury the truth & promote denial because, you know – $ & power. Besides, one couldn’t really “see” the problem so it was easy to get away with. As with tackling COVID-19, effective and aggressive measures up front (as evidenced in some other countries) can result in LESS COMPLEXITY and getting back to MORE FUN sooner. Both are world-wide problems – one obviously way more short-term than the other. We – the U.S (supposedly a world leader) – have failing marks on both. Therefore, urgency is more dire . . . and we have less fun!

  3. Your plan would definitely work if you could convince about 70% of the world’s population to pressure their governments and vested fossil proponents to go along with it. Human nature and short sighted self interest are the real obstacles to overcome, and it’s not a good bet that will happen. We need a comprehensive national plan to adapt to the inevitability of severe natural disasters and loss of coastal properties going forward. This should be as much as the ongoing push for clean energy.

    And BTW, how much time do you think we have left before the methane clathrates bubble up en mass and settle this discussion?

    Thanks for continuing to blog.

    Response to Michae;l. Concerning your question – how much time to we have before methyl clathrate (and other) carbon emission begin. I suspect that the authors due date of 2050 resulted from your question. We can’t simply wait until later than 2050 because the Earth is now sort of a powder keg ready to go off when T increases enough to ignite it . Eric


  4. Energy consumption, including that of the very rich, is not the problem.
    The problem is the source of that energy. We must move quickly to “nuables”.
    That’s nuclear power and renewables. Sweden is an excellent example to follow. The days of being anti-nuclear need to be over. Construction of nuclear power is expensive but once operating, costs come way down. Sweden has the cheapest electricity in Europe. Read “A Bright Future” by Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist.

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