In the weblog Clean Break, written by Canadian reporter Tyler Hamilton (screenshot from his site on the left), I was pointed to an edition of MIT’s Technology Review, with a set of article looking at different aspects of measures against global warming.
Articles are about different solutions in bringing down emissions, ranging from nuclear to Brasil’s biofuel as well as using improved technologies to get more from what we already are using. But in the end there is no escaping the reality that […] we will need an energy economy based on solar, wind and other renewables.
Tyler’s blog by the way is a good place to get information about Canadian initiatives in alternative energy sources, as well as the reality you have to face when implementing those initiatives.
Noam Chomsky in his recent posting suggests that peak-oil coming sooner rather than later is actually beneficial to the human species, as it will force us to rethink our ways fast, and will lessen the pollution we create from burning carbonhydrates.
I’d say that he would be right if we knew when peak oil came, or would know it if we were there already: then we probably would align our efforts to a sustainable new energy regime better and more effectively.
One other thing he says is interesting:
Talk about “shrinking our economies” is pretty meaningless. Our economies would shrink substantially if we got rid of huge expenditures for the military, for incarceration, and other highly destructive activities. Sustainable economies might lead to highly improved quality of life.
This sounds like what Martin Roell, Johnnie Moore and I were theorizing over lunch October 2003 in Brussels, when we postulated that in a fully developed knowledge economy GDP would actually go down significantly, compared to our current still largely industrialized economies, because its benefits and value would be outside the scope of our measurement and governance systems.
I have been reading Curt Rosengren’s weblog the Occupational Adventure with pleasure for some time. It turns out that he too is blogging on alternative and renewable energy sources.
Like me and Siert he experiences some difficulty in keeping that blog flowing. My guess is that’s because it lacks the conversational pace that we enjoy in our main blogs. So I added him to the blogroll on the right, in the hope that we are weaving the beginnings of a little network that keeps itself active.
Curt, I’m looking forward to new conversations on this topic!
The How Stuff Works website is always a useful way for a quick intro on technological themes.
Here is one of their explanations on How the Hydrogen Economy Works.
Earl Mardle in his piece A Networked World: Peak Oil - Risky Behaviour Tells the Story looks into a few recent things and connects them to peaking oil.
Even if it reads as one of those trumped up conspiracy theories he certainly has a point. Why isn’t there a large awareness in the main stream that our oil is running out, and running out fast?
Even if peak production, as some would have you believe, is still two or three decades away (which it probably isn’t, it might be here today), we all should already be very worried about energy regime change. Sofar I see some oil-companies like Shell develop programmes like the Hydrogen-plans developed in Iceland, but from governments (except Iceland) sursprisingly little.
Is this panic-control, or are they as Earl sketches trying to do their utmost to hold onto the current path as long as possible. And therefore seek out to control every oil-resource left, as e.g. in Africa? That is cynical indeed. And doomed to failure as well, as it will only postpone the inevitable, and with diminishing effect.
How can we individuals be involved in all this? We all are the ones who will suffer the consequences. Oil-based energy grows our food, creates our pharmaceuticals, and drives our interconnectedness. There is much to loose. And hoarding (of e.g. oil-sources) will not be the route to keeping it.
Neither will energy conservation in itself. It will perhaps slow down the decline a bit, thus buying us some time to bring about the needed change in energy regime.
What can Earl and I do, on a personal level to avoid or cushion the effects of the end of oil? It took us several centuries to overcome the collapse of the Roman civilization. What can we do to shorten that period for the collapse of our oil-based societies?
Says the European Conference on Renewable Energy
Does not really sound like much, although a lot more than the current 6% and also a lot considering that the energy consumption will continue to rise over time.
One of my intuitions is however that all initiatives are looking at large-scale centralized production methods. For some that might be the only way forward, e.g. when we want to exploit the energy contained in seawaves, or when looking at geothermal solutions. Those might not be easily applicated at home-level.
It also puts the burden of responsibility too little on us, energy consumers, I think, when the message is that we will come up with central solutions, and don’t you worry.
What can I do at the home level, at affordable prices, now to 1) reduce my personal dependency on fossil fuel, and 2) make it more likely to bring about energy regime change in a distributed manner.