In the 1970's I was in elementary school. As we sat in the class with our books, in rooms with heroes like Mary Lou Retton and Muhammed Ali hanging on the walls, we were educated about the environment. These were the early days of the environmental movement, when catalytic converters were still a "new" item, and when you could still buy leaded fuel at the pump.
We discussed the future of a petroleum based energy system. At the time, worst case scenarios pegged us as having a 20 to 30 year supply of fossil fuels left. While the interceding years have proven that hypothesis wrong, the threat of a looking energy shortage did drive us to discussion of alternatives. We envisioned a world of wind and solar, and, yes, nuclear power (this was before disasters like Three Mile Island). But we did believe we would see a day when the world no longer depended on pulling petroleum out of the ground.
More years than I would like to count later, we're really no closer to realizing that goal than we were then. Yes, we are running windmills, and there are solar farms, but as a percentage of our energy production they are rather small. While we may be impressed by the energy output of a 2.5 megawatt wind turbine (among the larger turbines operating at scale), it would take 1.6 million wind turbines operating at full performance to equal the annual output of the Hoover Dam; 8 million to equal the output of the Grand Coulee Dam.
To put it simply, even in open areas with Class 4 or higher winds, such as the Texas Panhandle, there is not enough land to house them all. To say nothing of the transmission lines that are still under construction to move the energy to populated areas.
The painful truth of a green movement is that it will not only take personal sacrifice, but personal involvement. And that means less consumption. Which means less cash for America's largest companies.
It's hard for corporate America to own backyard gardens (although Monsanto is certainly trying their hardest), which can assist families in reducing consumption, putting less strain on the grid. It's hard for them to profit off of aquaculture, so they regulate it out of existence where they are able. They also regulate raising small food animals in most communities (although I was raised in a household that offered a telling example of WHY chickens, for instance, aren't the best thing to raise in the city, I advocate for addressing the nuisance itself, not the presence of the animal. Let those with the means to raise them properly do so). It's also hard for them to profit off of reduced carbon emissions, which is why they suggest pollution caps to address the problem.
And let's not even address the idea of using the secondhand market for anything you need that's not a consumable. Using the secondhand market also has the added benefit of keeping your money in your local community.
A comedian in the late 80's or early 90's (I believe it was Eddie Murphy, although Google nor YouTube has been especially helpful in assisting me to find it)addressed the money issue in his act. You want nuclear energy? They control the uranium. Want geothermal energy? They control the geothermal vents. Want solar energy? ...there's no such THING as solar energy!! (I'm sure my paraphrase was way off, but it was the best I could come up with relying strictly on recall). The truth is, if you can't commoditize it and sell it on Wall Street, corporate America has no interest in solutions. And neither do politicians who are effectively owned by corporate America.
The truth is that if we want to see a greener future, we're going to have to set about doing it ourselves. Waiting on someone to act against their own economic self interest is a fool's errand, and one we are best left NOT pursuing. We can quite easily engineer our homes to maximize sunlight. We can learn to garden in ways that maximize even small spaces (I recommend Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" for help on this one). We can pursue optioons like aquaculture or raising small animals (although there are a lot of local regulations to research).
In short, there are as many different possible solutions as there are people. And I have no doubt that the innovative minds to effect change are out there.
But if we wait on Washington, it's never going to happen. There's simply no market for TRUE green solutions.