There’s no “silver bullet”, but there is “silver buckshot”. 🙂

Climate Change is a big hairy problem, with no single solution. The deeper you dig, the more obvious this point becomes. 

The only way we’ll have a chance against this Climate monster is by throwing everything we have at it – political, economic, and technological. 

In a previous post, we explored the problem of Climate Change and how serious it is. I’ll quickly recap here… 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned us that we have exactly 10 years (2030) to reduce our emissions by half and then an additional 20 (2050) to reach zero carbon emissions. This is so we’re able to stay below a post-industrial 1.5 C increase. Sadly, this IPCC story isn’t complete and we’re already too late due to “committed emissions” via the infrastructure we’ve built and plans underway. Meaning, if we went zero-carbon right now we would still hit the 1.5 C increase and possibly touch 2 C. 

With that beautifully depressing picture painted, let’s see what solutions we have to get out of the deep hole we’re already in. 

Two sides of the same coin

The two main things we’ll need to do to combat the Climate monster are “mitigate” and “adapt”. All the solutions you’ll see here and elsewhere fall into one or both of these two major buckets. 

Mitigate – We need to stop f****** up the planet by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the air. This first step is focused on slowing the damage we’re causing. 

Adapt – The world is changing no matter what we do, so now it’s time to figure out how to thrive in the new ecosystem we’ve created. Luckily, we humans are known for our ability to adapt to any environment… Hopefully, that stays true. Ha! 

A three-course buffet

The list of Climate solutions can get overwhelming fast. Don’t believe me? Just Google “Climate Change Solutions” 

Today we’re going to focus on the macro perspective, with the aim of understanding the overall landscape. 

Climate Change is a problem that needs multiple solutions coming from different people and backgrounds, specifically – politics, economics, and technology. Let’s look at each… 


  • The fossil fuel industry has helped humanity massively giving reliable energy to the world, but that’s come at a cost and it’s time we transition to a more sustainable era. But the majority of those fossil fuel companies aren’t too happy with this transition because it means lower profits, job loss, and eventual death to the company (unless they transition too). This is where policy comes into play. Sustainable energy providers need support from the government in the form of carbon taxes, low-interest loans, a fair regulatory environment, etc. – The Green New Deal is an example.


  • Subsidy – This word is what slows many renewable energy providers from scaling to the masses. A “subsidy” is basically public money given by the government to support different industries because they’re important for the success of a country’s economy. Most massive fossil fuel players receive these subsidies, giving them an unfair advantage over more sustainable energy providers. Many countries around the world have started lowering this number, but it’s still an unfair playing field… For example, a recent IMF study shows fossil fuels receive 85% of all global subsidies. Surprisingly, renewables are now cheaper even without subsidies. 🙂
  • Divestment – Many big banks have trillions (with a “T”) invested in the fossil fuel industry and for renewables to take off that money needs to be “divested” (e.g. removed) and re-invested into climate-friendly companies. There is some good news here, with the European Investment Bank (EIB) committing to stop all funding of fossil fuels by 2021. Plus, according to this website, there’s already been 14 trillion divested from the fossil fuel industry. 


I’m assuming when you think of sustainable energy and zero-carbon future solar and wind come to mind, but this is a small sliver of what needs to be done. I’ve realized that each region will have its own special mix of Climate solutions depending on the climate and infrastructure in place. 

  • Nuclear Energy → This tech has a lot of negative press (think about Chornobyl or Fukushima). But almost all of that fear is based on a fictional story we tell ourselves. Michael gives a good TED talk separating fiction from fantasy when thinking about the harms of Nuclear. Two facts from a United Nations study that jumped out to me were… Fukushima had 0 deaths related to radiation and in Chernobyl, there was no proven increase of any other cancer outside of thyroid cancer. 
  • Geoengineering → This is humanity’s last resort and not something we should depend on. Geoengineering is changing the world climate in our favor, instead of against us (what we’re doing today). Some of the ideas today are Carbon Capture (sucking carbon out of the air), Reflective Aerosols (making our clouds shiny to reflect radiation back into space), Cloud Seeding (sprinkling stuff into the clouds making them rain more),  Space Mirrors (exactly that massive mirrors in space), Forestation (growing more trees), and ocean iron fertilization (adding nutrients to the ocean, increasing its ability to suck and store carbon). 

I started this section off with politics and economics because I (& others) tend to look past them running straight to the tech that could solve our problems… But without political and financial backing all of this technology is useless sitting in a lab. We need a scale!

Getting the right mix

The uncomfortable truth about the above solutions is that they all need to happen simultaneously, with the right mix for each region. 

Each solution has a weakness, that weakness is another solution’s strength, which is why they need to be combined in the right way. Each renewable has a hidden “yin” to its “yang”. 

For example, some people say that wind and solar farms will fix it all. But there’s a big hidden weakness with these solutions and it’s called the “storage problem”. The sun shines and the wind blows at certain times and we need energy 24/7, so storing this energy for later use is important. Lithium-ion batteries store 2.5 mega-jewels per kilogram, which is 20X less than 1 kilogram of gasoline… If we want to live in a 100% renewable energy world then we need to make some serious advances in fundamental battery science. 

Luckily there’s a solution to this example… Nuclear. 

Using a combination of these three sustainable resources, we could reach zero carbon emissions in most regions of the world. Plus, if we crack fusion (bottling up the sun), then we’re set forever. Ha! 


There is no “silver bullet”, only “silver buckshot”… We need to throw everything we have at this climate monster – politics, economics, and technology.