The first quote is from an old (2005) Washington Post article, in which Jeffrey Immelt and Jonathan Lash analyse the challenge:
"Fundamental change will require three things: the brainpower to develop new technology, a market that makes clean technologies profitable and a strong dose of American will. Right now we have two out of three."
What pops out at me of course is the second condition. The alternative to fossil fuel has to return a decent profit. So if there are viable alternatives that don't, should we let civilization perish? Is monetary profit and protecting the existing vested interests really that important? Apparently. Perhaps the authors' jobs highlight a possible reason why Immelt and Lash might hold this view:
"Jeffrey Immelt is chairman and chief executive of General Electric Co. Jonathan Lash is president of the World Resources Institute."
More recently noises are emerging that wind powered energy might be too cheap, and is therefore the reason for resistance from those energy utility companies who stand to lose out as it becomes more prevalent and effective. From The Oil Drum:
"The key thing here is that we are beginning to unveil what I've labelled the dirty secret of wind: utilities don't like wind not because it's not competitive, but because it brings prices down for their existing assets, thus lowering their revenues and their profits. Thus the permanent propaganda campaign against wind. But now that this "secret" is out in the open, it's hopefully going to make one of the traditional arguments against wind (the one about its supposed need subsidies) much more difficult to use..."
Meanwhile other alternatives to fossil fuels are popping up like daisies. Some will wither, some will bloom, and of them this from Bloom Energy seems particularly exciting:
"the company boasts that their systems could literally replace the electricity grid with dispersed, clean, and easy to maintain fuel cell boxes running on a variety of fuels, water, and oxygen, with no combustion at all."
There are many others of course, new ways of harnessing wind, space-based solar energy collectors, nets of tiny-beads to hang in windows or coat buildings also for collecting solar energy, and others besides. What we are seeing is a combined and multi-fronted attack on an existing order, and the existing order doesn't like it. How could they? What it all adds up to is a paradigm-altering challenge on the way humanity has done business these last few centuries, including the nature of money, and the nature of waged-labour too. Almost everything is back on the table. Because the implications are global, this change is painful and is being met with huge resistance, which is only natural.
Interesting times folks. And we're living in them.