Aside from the crucial role of renewable energy sources in preventing climate change from making our planet uninhabitable, they also have considerable economic benefit. The current inflation crisis brings into focus the need for measures against inflation going forward. Renewables offer a powerful tool to accomplish this.
The causes of inflation are numerous. Not the least of these is energy costs. As the price of fossil fuels rises, the impact hits many areas of our economy. Direct energy costs are passed on to the consumer in the price of gasoline, the price of fuels for heating homes, and the price of electricity, each adding an inflation surcharge to each household’s monthly expenses. These added costs are already mitigated for households owning electric vehicles and those deriving their energy from renewables either directly, for example from rooftop solar panels, or indirectly, via utilities that use renewable energy sources.
The cost of fossil fuels, however, also contributes to the rising cost of consumer goods. Manufacturing goods requires enormous expenditures of energy. And transporting them from the point of manufacture through the various waypoints to final delivery consumes enormous amounts of fuel. Each step adds to the final cost of products.
Once the infrastructure to capture renewable energy is built, the cost of delivering energy becomes vanishingly small and remarkably stable. The episodic shortages, either because of naturally occurring events or the manipulation of supply by entities who control it, that have whipsawed oil prices until now would no longer occur in an economy based largely on renewable energy. Increasingly efficient energy storage systems would eventually meet seasonal demands. And the direct cost of energy to consumers would no longer threaten their security. While the price of goods would still fluctuate somewhat with supply and demand, the added effect of escalating fuel costs would no longer apply.
Climate change itself contributes to inflationary pressures through damaging effects upon crop production, livestock maintenance, forests, and other resources. The scarcity of these resources results in higher prices to consumers for everything from food to manufactured goods. And the destructive power of extreme weather events adds to scarcity and the demand for materials to repair the damage as well as an increased demand for fuels to heat or cool our homes.
Inflation is a political rallying cry that threatens to divide our nation further. But it should also be a wake-up call for those in power to unite in support of legislation designed to mitigate climate change by powering the future of our nation and the world with renewable energy.