Here is part 5 of my 7 part series:
But won't our economy come crashing down without coal and oil? Is a change of this magnitude possible without an economic crisis?
The transition from coal and oil to renewable energy sources, if nudged along with incremental economic policies, is likely to be fairly smooth in terms of macroeconomics. In other words, energy switching will not cause another Great Depression. The major changes resulting from energy switching will be within regions of the U.S. and sectors of the economy, which undergo major transitions periodically. For example, when I was in graduate school at UK during the late-1980s the IBM typewriter plant was a major employer. As computer technology took over the typewriter plant shut down and lots of people lost jobs. This is an economic crisis for the families of those who lost jobs but not the sort of crisis that we want to avoid. The transition from typewriters to computers significantly cut production costs for business firms and increased overall employment. The transition from oil and coal to renewable energy sources is not likely to increase the number of jobs in the U.S., despite wild claims by those who are currently pushing government policies to mandate renewable energy sources, but there would be positive economic effects such as the improved health and recreation from improved air and water quality and mitigation of climate change.