This is “Not Doomed Yet,” The Atlantic’s new weekly newsletter about global warming. It lives here in the science section; you can also get it in your inbox.
The atmosphere is filling with greenhouse gases. Between September 28 and October 4, 2015, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii measured an average of 397.20 CO₂ parts per million in the atmosphere. A year before, that week saw 395.40 CO₂ ppm. For the same period a decade before, the Observatory measured 376.49 ppm.
Renewable energy costs are plunging faster than anyone anticipated. A new report from Bloomberg looked at the complete costs of 55,000 new energy projects around the world and found that generating electricity through onshore wind is now cheaper than burning fossil fuels in many places. Globally, onshore wind costs an average of $83 per megawatt-hour and photovoltaic solar costs $122. The price of each, respectively, has fallen $2 and $7 just since the beginning of 2015. From Chris Mooney’s story:
That presents an increasingly favorable comparison with fossil fuels—though it still depends greatly on where you are located. Coal-fired electricity cost $75 per megawatt-hour in the Americas, but $105 in Europe. Gas-fired generation cost $82 in the Americas and $118 in Europe, on average, the report found.
And because renewable-energy projects don’t cost much to operate after installation (as opposed to coal or gas plants, which always need new fuel to burn), this cost of renewables by this measure will continue to fall, even without further improvements in technology.