I came across this interesting post by Prof. Calvin Jones, in an unusual place, ClickonWales (thanks to Pete Lipman). The idea is that large scale renewable energy projects for wave, tidal and wind power, while useful, are not a solution to climate change.
It is interesting that while this is a post appearing on a website with fairly conventional ideas, it makes some quite strong environmental points:
- “Most of the audience seemed cheered by the economic opportunity and the possibility of mitigating the effects of climate change. I was terrified.
- a belief that technology and increased resource efficiency can ‘solve’ our ecological and climate problems… is Walter Mitty land. It is populated by well-meaning, intelligent people to be sure, but a fantasy none the less.
- On ‘current trends’ we can expect three billion more people in the global middle class by 2030… To enable this, we require a mere doubling of world electricity production. Let me say this slowly. This. Will. Not. Happen. There is not enough stuff in the world for material consumption to effectively double on a global basis. There is not enough water for the dishwashers, or indeed to drink. There is not enough aluminium for the Audis, and not enough kerosene for the short-haul holidays to Hong Kong. There are certainly not enough prawns for the cocktails.
- we have to re-define value and work in terms of what really adds to welfare and yes, in places we recognise. Then we should encourage this useful work, and spread it around all who want it, instead of maximising its commodified price and to hell with the rest.”
This is an fine start to letting go of conventional assumptions. Real progress comes when we look towards practical ways of creating low consumption societies, with modest physical comfort but high social and cultural pleasures, and much more resilience to economic and environmental dangers.
As usual, my favourite examples are from the Transition Network. I am also working on a new edition of my book, eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications, in which I spell out the qualities needed for a truly collaborative (but bottom up, not centrally controlled) global society, and how it might work.