Substituting carbon-free or carbon-neutral fuels for fossil fuels is one change we have all heard about. How realistic is that idea? Can nuclear, solar, water, and wind power do it all? What about agriculture and forestry - they contribute about a quarter of the greenhouse gases?
There are solutions to all of these questions. We have only to implement them in time.
The Problem is Not Technical
Fossil fuels and industrial agriculture are the key culprits in causing global warming but they are also the key pillars of our modern society. Huge investments have been made in developing the infrastructure to support our daily heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, transportation, and agriculture all based on the assumption of cheap power from the use of fossil fuels. To make a significant change in global warming, we will need to bring the carbon emissions to zero within the next 50 years. In the next 50 years the demand for power will likely go up to about 32TW. That means the transition from fossil fuels to other power will need to change every current source of power and an equivalent future amount to a carbon-free or a carbon-neutral power source. The same industries as now produce fossil fuels already have much of the needed infrastructure to make the switch, but thee is no economic incentive to do so just now. Once the transition begins, there is a huge amount of money to be spent and earned. In addition, the number of jobs required to do all this work is in the tens of millions per year. The trick is how to get the transition started.
Dismissing, Denying, Rejecting global warming as real
There is no magic way to do this. Rejection and denial of climate change is a major impediment. Many different reasons are behind the rejection of climate change but most of them boil down to a fear that there will be a cost that both corporations and individuals do not want to bear.
It is not necessary to "believe" that global warming is happening. The evidence is clear and unequivocal. From a scientific perspective, global warming is not in doubt. That the current global warming event is caused by humans is such a high probability that it is virtually certain. There is no alternate explanation that holds up under examination. Global warming is really just getting started, so we do have at least a few years to take action - but not many. So understanding that premise is helpful because it creates a context for taking action to minimize the danger for our future grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Kick Starting the Transition
There are some incentives that will help, but they require either community pressure or political decision-making. Communities can augment their electrical supply by developing a distributed network of solar or wind generated power. This reduces (but doesn't necessarily eliminate) the carbon emissions - so it is a help. Politicians can increase the cost of carbon emissions without increasing the cost to consumers. This is called the fee and dividend approach. Over time, the market shifts to products made with less carbon because as the fee on carbon increases the cost of products made with carbon goes up but the cost of equivalent products remains the same or declines.
Regaining a Stable Climate
Abundant intermittent power, widely distributed but needs to be concentrated and backed-up to supply consistent power all day every day so it can be transformed into heat or electricity.
Some places are windy, some are not , wind comes and goes, so it needs to have a means of storing the power to be delivered when the wind dies down
If water is nearby as a flowing stream, as an ocean with tides and waves, near a hill where it can be pumped up in times of excess power to be used later, then you are in luck and you can probably harness at least some power from the water.
There is enough fissionable fuel of various sorts to power the world for thousands of years on a continuous basis. Designed properly it is safe, clean, and carbon-free. Installations are built to last close to a century so the cost amortized over the life of a nuclear power plant is very low. Because the fuel is really cheap and maintenance and operating costs relatively low compared to the power output, the price to the consumer for electricity is also very low.
Depending on where the biomass comes from and assuming it would have released carbon, the diverting that to energy is a carbon-neutral source.
Methane can be created artificially be combining hydrogen and carbon from sea water, or carbon captured from the air. This creates an equivalent to natural gas without adding net carbon to the air. We remove it from water which allows the water to capture new carbon from the air which is replaced when we burn the methane. So it is a neutral process for global warming. Methane can also be transformed into liquid fuels like e-diesel, e-gasoline, and e-jet fuel.
Return carbon to the soil using ancient biochar systems. Use no or low-till practices to reduce loss of nitrous oxide. Capture methane from cattle and re-use it. Use cover crops and cattle manure rather than industrial fertilizers.
Battery power is the new and innovative solution just being introduced to the market for grid-level power. Pumped storage of water, or gas, or air is traditional and still works.