Archive for July, 2008

Old Windows need replacing

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Freeman Dyson has written, by way of a book review in the New York Review of Books, an in depth look at ‘Global Warming’ and analysis of the policy choices. Kevin Kelly has excerpted and elaborated on this in his own unique way. Now these are two really smart people, writers and thinkers that I have enjoyed and appreciated for years. Yet I find myself thinking that they are stuck in a paradigm that is so yesterday, much like single pane windows. We are all due to have our old windows removed and replaced by double and triple pane versions. It may take a hundred years, but it is going to be worth the effort, and put lots of people to work, and that is always a good idea.
Let me elaborate a bit-

The laws of physics and chemistry are pretty well set, but economics is a construct of man, and can be changed with our minds. We need to get economics to account for common values like the atmosphere, fisheries and other currently unaccounted for assets.

If we don’t escape the notion that the current economic model is actually viable, then we can’t really transform the society, much less the environment. The fossil fuel paradigm can’t lift even half the current have-nots out of poverty, much less the next three billion people. Other sources of energy need to be utilized. And there are lots of them available right now, without digging, without burning, without creating poisons. Between solar, wind and tidal, there is more energy available every day than the entire fossil fuel inventory. We keep using ancient sunshine because we are creatures of habit, especially economically.

There are immediate economic and security benefits to turning our attention to both efficiency and production of clean – non burning – energy production. Even an oilman like T Boone Pickens gets this (although he wants to keep burning natural gas). Shifting the buying policy of the federal government to the cleanest energy made available to it is sufficient market influence. Moving all incentives/subsidies for fossil fuels to non burning energy sources and investing in a grid to distribute them will resolve the energy issues. The best place for nuclear is right where it is right now- in the sky. The best place for fossil fuels is in the ground.

We also need to stop thinking about whether or not we can succeed, and get on with trying. Tomorrow never knows. And although we will certainly know more tomorrow than we do today, that is no reason not to act on the ways we can reinvent living well right now.

BTW_ thanks for Doc Searls for keeping me posted on the outside world while I am in post.