NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The on-again, off-again debate over global warming is on again.
While fighting global warming has become a $1 billion a day industry, according to the Global Warming Policy Initiative, that's less than half what should be going into mitigating climate change, and even less than what's being spent subsidizing fossil fuels.
The World Bank has weighed in with a report called On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution Can Slow Warming and Save Lives.
The report says better stoves for the developing world, better control of methane and improved efficiency for diesel engines to reduce black carbon can slow melting of the "cryosphere," the glaciers and ice caps that moderate the global climate.
Another cry for the planet is coming from the nuclear industry, which the GWPI says is drawing more subsidies from Europe than green industries are.
Climate change bulls like Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University and Tom Wigley of the University of Adelaide in Australia now argue that nuclear energy is our only hope for preventing a climate catastrophe
Meanwhile, climate skeptics have latched on to a study by Judith Curry of Georgia Tech
, arguing that most scientists have underestimated the impact of natural cycles on global temperature and that the planet is actually 1 degree centigrade cooler than most models say it should be.
Curry herself is not a global warming denialist. On her blog she writes about "practical levers" to tackle the problem
, such as reducing deforestation, emissions that come from agriculture and use of such chemicals as hydrofluorocarbons, which are often produced in just a few industries.
It would seem that climate change has ceased to be strictly a scientific dispute, and has now become an economic one. Every side of the energy industry is now fighting for a fairly fixed investment pie and using the latest scientific studies to buttress its case.
Take the World Bank's call for cleaner stoves. That's music to the ears of EnviroFit
, based in Ft. Collins, Colo., which is offering a wide range of stoves featuring less pollution
to a global market.
The Hansen letter, meanwhile, must be music to the ears of the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore Labs
, which recently produced a fusion reaction that, for the first time, released more energy than it took to create it. The facility is fighting for funding by, for instance, having part of the latest Star Trek
movie shot there.
Then, of course, there are all the green energy industries that have emerged in this century, from solar power to wind power to geothermal and tidal power.
Solar energy has achieved market parity with other forms of energy on both coasts, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance's solar parity map
. Wind energy costs can be half that, and companies such as Solar Wind Energy
say they can combine the two.
Add in the gains from fracking for oil and gas, the advocacy for "clean coal," plus numerous breakthroughs in the cheapest renewable energy, and what you get is a picture of energy abundance with many technologies aiming at a market that by its nature must be limited.
Will the winners be those that can get their unsubsidized costs down furthest and fastest or will it be those that can spin governments to their way of thinking?
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.