Can't quit "dirty power" cold turkey

In response to an over-enthusiastic Earth Day petition, the always-thoughtful Geoff Styles thinks through the following:
What would it mean if every power plant burning coal, oil or natural gas shut down today and remained idle? The short answer is chaos and social collapse, but let's take a quick look at why.
Here are a few of his facts for the numerically inclined:
As it turns out, all renewable sources plus nuclear generated a bit over 1.2 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) last year... Unfortunately, it's also less power than the US has generated in any year since 1966.
If we adjust for energy:GDP, then 1979, with its net generation of 2.25 trillion kWh, looks like a more appropriate basis of comparison to the economic work that our current zero-emission power output could do. The problem is that the US population has grown by 84 million people since then, and our economy, expressed in constant dollars, is more than twice as big as in '79--even after last year's contraction.
The wind, solar and geothermal power sources we've focused intensely on expanding accounted for just 2% of the electricity we used last year. Double them, and then double them again (10 years?) and that's still only 8%, compared to the 69% we got from fossil-based generation last year.
The argument almost makes itself, but he makes it well. And rightly doesn't even bother with the triviality of a similar argument for fossil transportation fuels.

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