Yves here. To put none too fine a point on it, the most important steps to reduce carbon emissions would be a Marshall plan level effort to reconfigure living and resourcing arrangements so as to reduce energy demands, and to go particularly aggressively after the worst polluters (for instance, the cars you see spewing fumes, are surprisingly large contributors to total emissions from automobiles). But it’s much easier to go the Easter Island route and keep carrying on more or less as before until you hit insurmountable constraints.
When it comes to energy and economics in the climate-change era, nothing is what it seems. Most of us believe (or want to believe) that the second carbon era, the Age of Oil, will soon be superseded by the Age of Renewables, just as oil had long since superseded the Age of Coal. President Obama offered exactly this vision in a much-praised June address on climate change. True, fossil fuels will be needed a little bit longer, he indicated, but soon enough they will be overtaken by renewable forms of energy.