Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Forget climate change science - here's why we should go renewable.

Forget the science on "climate change, global warming, anthropogenic global warming (AGW)" or whatever you want to call it - here's why I think we should go renewable, and invest in solar, wind, tidal and all the other potential sources of clean, renewable, green and greener energy that are now available to humanity.

First off, because I'm assuming that, regardless of the "side" your bias puts on, you don't drive a Model T Ford car, or ride a Penny Farthing bike, or wear the same suit you bought for your first job interview 20 yers ago, or probably even have the same job you had 20 years ago, or wear only "Made in [your country here]" clothing, and assiduously grow your own food, or buy local everything. (But if you do - good on ya!)

You do what we all mostly do, go with the times, and update your car, bike, fridge, computer, consumer goods, and if the rest of us are lucky - your suit, every few years.  Presumably, because the old technology is obsolete, and new items are better engineered, more efficient, prettier, smaller, bigger, more powerful, etc.  And you can afford it.

And if you have a fridge or aircon unit or a motor vehicle with aircon, or if you rummage through your bathroom toiletries for hairspay, deodorant etc, you'll notice these are no longer using* CFCs for cooling or as accelerants, because the world got together back in the 1980's to ban their use, in order to protect the Ozone layer and reduce and prevent damage.

Manufacturers succesfully transitioned to other less harmful chemicals, the sky didn't fall, the world's economies continued to grow, and the Ozone layer's health is improving.

(*The DuPont patent on "Freon" being due to run out, was also bandied about, but I digress.)

So it's not like we haven't already set the precedent for action on a global environmental emergency.

I also assume that you're not still using your very first computer and the same dial-up connection to the "internet", or the myraiad other examples of improvements in technology and productivity, that have impacted your llife since the day you were born, and you can point to, if you look around your office or home right now.

Remember Y2K?  In my opinion, Y2K was a "non event" because the global commuity again decided that there was an imminent threat; i.e. put simply (excluding conspiracy theories) - the fear that legacy computing systems which were built in the days of limited RAM, ROM and what are now considered laughably tiny hard drives, wouldn't recognise the date 2000.

This would impact on everything from your bank account statement to the plane ride you were about to take. So we decided we'd better do something about it if we didn't want a mess to wade through and clean up afterward.

(2000 zero zero, party over, oops, out of time.)

As a result of global action and investment (more USD $300 billion apparently), aside from saving the jobs of millions of financial industry workers* around the world, it created huge investment - and jobs, in computing and IT hardware, firmware and software industries.  I would also assert that this directly impacted hugely on what is a global industry called "the web", which continues to grow directly and indrectly, in ways that were unimaginable in the lead up to Y2K.

An ounce of prevention is cheaper than a pound of cure.

*They could be sacked in the wake of the GFC a decade later.  But that's another story.

These improvements in technology have allowed those of us fortunate enough to live in "the West", to enjoy the lifestyle which the rest of the world looks to also be able to also enjoy soon, by using the same energy technology we have used for the last 400 years. That is; coal, oil and every other fossil fuel we could cheaply dig or pump out of the ground or seabed.

But, now there is a more effective option with renewable energy technology, some of it proven over the last 40 years or longer. It creates clean energy, it's limitless*, it helps drive other forms of renewable energy, it's more healthy for us as a species and for the planet as a whole.

*Well, until the sun goes nova or the human race ceases to exist - whichever comes first, with the latter more likely than the former.

AND, the more R&D we do the better it will get, just like the R&D and investment money we've poured into the sunset fuels of yesteryear, over the last 400 years.

Fossil fuels did their job magnificiently, but they've done their time, because, well, we've simply got better ways of doing these things now to get the same or better result.

Like gas lamp lighters, carriage makers, vacuum tube repairmen, secretarial pools where the clatter of typwriters declared "money making activities happening here!", and all those other occupations which no longer exist, it's time to downsize, outsource, retire and make these obsolete energy sources redundant as soon as possible. 

Oh, and did I mention that I know that we'll make lot's of money doing it?