How long will it be before someone writes a book about all the “C”s currently crowding our collective consciousnesses?
Cost of living; climate change; COP26; cryptocurrency and coercion towards control. Maybe even corruption or conspiracy theories? We mustn’t forget Covid!
The fear is once again palpable. But there’s nothing new here!
In 1982 in my third year at secondary school, peak oil had apparently been reached, and we were told: “The Oil Is Running Out! Demand is growing exponentially, and supply is falling…it’s a crisis, an oil crisis!”
It was terrifying for a 15-year-old boy who was suddenly told that the world’s oil was about to run out in the next few years, and that it was potentially the end of the world.
Combine that with the Falklands war and high inflation, and it doesn’t take a genius to draw significant parallels with the world today.
Move on 40+ years and the oil hasn’t run out. We are even arguing that much of what is left of it should be left in the ground – and it probably should.
We have an alternative path – a better path, a sustainable, cleaner, more scalable path.
And we should take it.
But this time, let’s not take it because we are being told we are in a crisis; instead let’s do it because it’s a better option and it makes sense.
Let’s put climate change to one side for a moment. Let’s remove the stick and consider the carrot.
How much power do we on the earth actually use? Google has many answers, but the range it suggests is currently around 20 terawatts (TW). That’s a lot of zeros (13 to be precise).
But how much sunlight reaches the earth from the sun? Well, that’s a lot too. It’s actually 10,000x what we actually currently use. This energy from the sun can be captured using solar panels. Efficiencies of 2% in the 1950s have risen to 20% and above in 2022, and panels currently in development are reaching 50% efficiency.
You do the maths.
The sun also drives the weather, and the wind can drive wind turbines. The bigger they are, the more efficient they are, and with 70% of the planet covered in ocean, we have the perfect locations to accommodate these enormous machines.
“But,” I hear you say, “That’s just electricity! That’s no use for aircraft, lorries, container ships etc.”
No, but with the surfeit of electricity that our planet would be capable of delivering we can produce green hydrogen, and from this we can make high energy density synthetic liquid fuels.
Call me an optimist; but I believe that this is the only healthy and objective approach.
Surely, we don’t have to scare the children every time we want something to change, do we?
Let’s instead focus on some positive “C”s that can actually make things better: our children.
Martin Worth is a director at PIM Ltd.