California has zero concern with cascading failures
"There's zero chance it can fail," said the young engineer.
Hydroelectric plants store so much potential energy that it has measurably changed the length of the day
Right, so it's just a matter of building a river, a dam, and a hydro plant next to my solar plant in the desert. That'll work. Some ideas have been tried like pumping water uphill, or molten salt for thermal storage, but are overly lossy. I'm a big fan of the idea of hydrogen-based energy storage (storing hydrogen as a palladium hydride is quite dense and safe), and that can work at small scale so individual home systems can use it, but again that's not yet practical, just another "looks great on paper" idea.
Also, the costs of solar are not particularly great ... That means the entire cost per watt to the power grid to replace a coal plant with photovoltaics is less than 40 cents more for every dollar you spend.
An abrupt 40% increase in power cost (totally do-able with solar thermal) would destroy the economy. It's a non-starter. Over 20 years, though, maybe. Of course, that's plenty of time for better solar panels to happen (today the good ones simply can't be made in the needed quantity, but technology marches on).
Considering the hundreds of trillions of dollars in damage that is slated to be caused by the continued burning of carbon-based fuels over the next few centuries, I would say that it is time to start dictating to the power companies how we are going to move away from fossil fuel burning as soon as possible
I don't share your religious beliefs, and object to your suggestion that they be imposed by force. Maybe you can persuade one of the governments that will actually matter though - China and India. China might be an easy sell there since imposing crazy economic ideas by force is the norm. Pushing down coal use in the US, though, that seems to have some popular support. Natural gas is so cheap, and vastly better in terms of genuine pollution.