A few weeks ago, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at almost 400 parts per million. Many scientists predicted that in reaching this level, we would see more intense storms (like Hurricanes Irene and Sandy); droughts (like the one suffocating the middle of the US for the past year); and heat waves (the 12 hottest years on record have all been in the last 15).
If we keep dumping carbon pollution into the atmosphere, many of these same climate seers predict far worse environmental, economic, and public health consequences. But there are signs that the low-carbon cavalry is coming over the hill to save us, despite political gridlock and the turning of a willful blind eye to both the problem and the opportunities for positive—and profitable—change.
Such optimism can be found in three recent developments that could reverse course before the 400 parts per million number soars higher. First, consider that Goldman Sachs is providing $500 million in lease-finance capital to Solar City to help put about 110 megawatts of solar energy systems on residential and commercial rooftops with little or no up-front cost. A 110-megawatt powerplant isn't huge, but it would power a small town and is only a part of the $40 billion in renewable energy investment that Goldman Sachs plans to make over the next decade.