Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#364 / Power Shift

Back on November 4th, I recommended the book Power Shift, by Santa Cruz resident and long time energy activist Bob Stayton. Since we are soon going to be moving into a New Year, with the time for New Year's resolutions coming upon us, I thought I should highlight just how much we actually need to make that "shift."

To be blunt, the continued existence of our human civilization, and the continued existence of many of the species now living on this planet, depend on our making this "power shift" a matter of the utmost urgency and priority. Winning World War II was important. Americans did it. A rapid response was called for, and our entire economy was transformed in little more than one year. Taking action now to make the "power shift" we need to make is another "can do" requirement.

The Stayton book is written in a simple style, but it really does provide a solid basis for a belief that we can, in fact, decouple our human civilization from the current energy system that relies on the burning of fossil fuels. And here's the good part. This is the last change in our energy system we will ever need to make. Once we run everything on solar power (provided either directly or indirectly - and the Stayton book explains how that works) we will be plugged into a power source that is constant and reliable, and we can get rid of that idea of "depletion allowances!"

Next Year / Shift Gears!

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1 comment:

  1. Would that our environmental woes could all be solved by a change in energy sources.

    First of all, renewable sources cannot replace the entirety of our civilization’s use of fossil fuel energy. The very structure of our civilization is based on the ready availability of inexpensive petroleum and coal, and to a lesser extent, natural gas. Renewable energy sources cannot replace kilowatt per kilowatt petroleum and fossil fuel energy. While there is a great deal of energy available from wind and solar, they are not the same in quantity, quality and portability as petroleum and coal. Different is not the same.

    A renewable energy economy must be different from a fossil fuel economy. A renewable energy culture must be different from a fossil fuel culture. A renewable energy society must be different from a fossil fuel society. We cannot simply change from one energy source to another and expect to continue on into the future as we have done in the past.

    Furthermore, our energy choices also have other impacts on the world’s environments other than presence or lack of greenhouse gas emissions. All forms of energy development require mining, transportation, manufacture and continued maintenance, in combination with other elements that also must be mined, transported and manufactured. A high technology/high consumption renewable energy future will have the same impacts on the non-human world as the present high technology/high consumption fossil fuel energy present.

    We tend to view “global warming” as the be-all and end-all of our environmental concerns, assuming that if we can “stop” climate change (which we can’t) then all will be well. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    It is not just our energy choices that are of concern. It is the way we develop energy sources and the way that they are put to use that has far more and much more immediate impacts on the non-human world on which we all depend. We must change our patterns of consumption and conservation before a change in energy sources can be effective in lowering our footprint in the non-human world.

    There’s no free lunch, not even a relatively inexpensive snack.


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