Saturday, December 08, 2007

Count on Mondolithic Studios to rouse me from my general pessimism and cast the future in a hopeful new light:

My Kind of Environmentalism

30 years from now, we're going to look back and wonder why we ever thought that it was going to be so hard to change. We're going to look at the new fortunes made by new industries and wonder why we ever thought that going green would bankrupt our society and sound the death knell of capitalism. We're going to see the resurgence in local manufacturing, local ownwership and self-employment and wonder why we ever thought we needed to ship cheap underwear and crappy lead-laced toys across oceans in shipping containers. We're going to see the garden home ghetttos and lonely McMansions replaced with communities and wonder how we could have stood with living so isolated from each other. We'll see the cooperative adaptive energy network that replaced our obsolete power grid and wonder what took us so long to get our act together. We'll see the skies above our cities cleared of smog, and wonder why we ever listened to the desperate lies of corrupt leaders and corporate shills when they told us that reorganizing our society was going to be too difficult, too expensive, and would destroy our way of life.

It won't be easy, of course, but ultimately we might not have a choice.


Anonymous said...

"Necessity is the mother of invention." Plato - the Republic


Emperor said...

Yes things are changing rapidly and a lot of people are talking about the Third Industrial Revolution and the fourth technological revolution and people are getting their calculators out and are coming to the conclusion that there are no good reasons not to - it is all carrot and little stick.

On the individual front polymer solar cells can be printed and provide cheap alternatives, which means the savings in bills pays back the cost of purchase in a year or two. Vehicle to Grid technology also means electric cars will pay for themselves. Not many people will object to paying no fuel or transport bills.

Business that exploit the needs for post-carbon (and post-nuclear) technologies will be able to make billions.

The big sticking point are governments who are loath to set big carbon targets (despite the fact we need 80-90% cuts to keep below a 2 degree C temp rise) despite the fact that with the right application of pressure, to go with all the carrots, we could see carbon emissions drop away to nothing.

In fact governments in Asian developing countries should be all over this as they are going to need vast resources and if they can leap frog our messy later stages they are going to be in an impressive position. Africa is going to be trickier but they are in an impressive position to become power generating centres. The Saudis are looking into building vast solar farms in Africa which could supply a sixth of Europe's energy needs. Not only bringing money and training but also helping them help us to avoid the worst of global warming.

The sticking point is air travel. Planes will have to go. I see the near future being airships (the main hurdle being Helium but that is a waste product of fission) and then mag lev trains in vacuum tunnles further down the line. No one is going to want to hear cheap long distance holidays are out though ;)

Emperor said...

There are a few errors (Jordanians not Saudis, fusion not fission) and I have corrected them and reposted this here and added in various links to things I was referring to. I'll also add thoughts and updates there as things progress.

Anonymous said...

Oh, we so want to believe things will magically turn out all right. Too bad this false optimism masks where we and reality are actually going to take us over the next thirty and more years. Straight to hell.