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Solving the energy crisis now

Monday, 6 April 2009 — by

Securing the future of world finance is obviously of high importance right now. But in bringing together world leaders to establish unprecedented levels of funding to ease us through the global recession, they also set a very real precedent, one which should be seized upon at the earliest opportunity — and that is to bring those same people together once more to solve the impending world energy crisis, and help save the environment…

Earth horizon from space

I am not a financier, nor am I an economist. My grasp of world politics is probably at best balanced if somewhat incomplete, and my understanding of international diplomacy is peripheral. But none of this matters. In fact, none of those things I just mentioned matter. More to the point, if we don’t get a grip of the energy crisis we all face, things like finance, global economies, politics and diplomacy will cease to have any meaning or importance in a world that has no future.

Over the past few months, I’ve read several articles, discussing our growing and totally unsustainable energy needs. The future is, by all reckoning, bleak. Unless we pioneer break-through energy production technologies, the way we live our lives right now simply cannot and will not continue.

So, in my naivety, I will propose a plan to help focus our attentions on solving the energy crisis. I will for the most part ignore intricacies of world politics, the subtle nuances in international diplomacy, as well as the details of global finances and economics, because right now, such things have no meaning in the twilight future world we are all walking towards.

For the most part, George Walker Bush, the former US president was a moron. He probably still is. But, for all his inane and idiotic outburst and diatribes, he did speculate on something that I agree with entirely; technology will help us find solutions to the energy problem:

“Only recently, George Bush sort of hung his hat on the technology peg by claiming that technology would be the fix for the damage that’s being inflicted on our home world.”

We do lazily rely on technology to help fix the stuff we break; intentionally, through sheer ignorance or otherwise. But the fact of the matter is, time is no longer on our side. We need major fixes right now.

So what can we do to fix the energy crisis? Since we’re no longer in a position to make minor incremental changes spread over time, we now have to make huge changes, some of which will massively disrupt the lives of you, me and the very businesses we work for. But this is nothing compared to the legacy we will be leaving for future generations, should we get this right. So here’s my five-point plan to solving the world energy crisis.

1. Global political cooperation

We must accept that we are teetering on the precipice of an unimaginable, global disaster. Petty territorial squabbles need to be set aside and representatives of every nation needs to sit down and talk. No bullshit. No brinksmanship. No showboating. Talk. Action.

Nations whose commercial interests are in direct conflict with broader environmental initiatives (such as Brazil and Indonesia who’re contributing most to deforestation and the loss of other natural resources and habitats) must either be coerced into cooperating, or have their civilian governments suspended, while international aid is provided to their people, if need be.

We already have internationally recognized and ratified laws for human rights, as well as trade law, and environment governance. Now we need new international laws that protect all of the effort being made and ensuring / enforcing its adherence.

The emphasis of our efforts should not be on preserving the lifestyles that we enjoy, but in reinstating and then preserving the world as it was, prior to human industrialization and exploitation. The cultural vagaries of any one people nor any religion must not be allowed to obstruct this goal.

2. Unlimited access to funding and resources

Nations like Britain, the US, Russia, China, Japan, Germany and France need to open themselves up and offer their money, their resources and their expertise. They are the industrial, economic and technological superpowers. They must accept their roles and responsibilities and abide by them.

These nations would provide the backbone to the logistics required to make almost everything work and happen — everything from their transport infrastructures, as well as their communication networks, be they commercial or otherwise.

If we’re capable of bringing together world leaders to help save our finances from the near criminal actions of a negligent few, they can reconvene to draw up a political framework to help save the planet and steer a course to a better future. A very different language is needed.

3. Universal expertise

The greatest minds in the world need to be pooled, managed and tasked with solving the larger and lesser energy / environmental problems — expense should not even be a consideration. We need to pull together the luminaries and the most eminent thinkers in engineering, science, physics, chemistry, biology, oceanography, geology, all of the earth sciences, nanotechnology, agriculture — in short, any and all disciplines we will need unfettered access to.

We already have some amazing alternative energy technologies waiting in the wings, that require little more than man hours, funding and some faith. If that’s all they need, then we should provide these people will all of the man power and funding they require.

However, we need to be judicious in our selection of these technologies. An international body of senior experts (mostly retired professors, for example) would need to sift through the many technologies and proposals to select those with the greatest return on investment, or those with the greatest potential impact.

This body of people would liaise with the politicians to secure funding and resources appropriate to their locations, or if need be, move those people in their entirety elsewhere, to ensure they have full access to whatever they need.

4. Total cooperation of big business

Every major petrochemical producer and fossil fuel conglomerate, every major car and truck manufacturer, every major high street supermarket chain, every multinational electronic manufacturer — again, every major industry must be engaged and their knowledge tapped with unlimited access.

We need to draw up a series of sustainable, long-term goals that each and every one of these industries absolutely must adhere to. For the electronics manufacturers, they must work towards building common, standards-based technologies that meet with my gadget energy manifesto, for such things as battery formats, cable attachments, rechargers such as kinetic, solar (photovoltaic), and recyclable materials.

These businesses must be opened up and their short-term commercial interests be reduced, or even suspended, and then repurposed, as in times of war. Their respective research & development divisions must then all be focused on solving a particular aspect of the aforementioned sustainable, long-term goals, with their directors and division heads being answerable to the international body responsible for the managing of such expertise. In some circumstances, certain businesses would work with experts from universities and perhaps even competing companies.

The best minds in commercial legislation, in conjunction with politicians, will sit down and re-draft patent law, so that over the short-term, these businesses have no claim to the technologies they have helped create. While over the longer term, they will have some (perhaps limited) commercial claim, within a more cooperative, flexible and inclusive framework that doesn’t stifle or cripple innovations that would directly benefit developing nations, or businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations whose interests are focused on sustainable technologies.

In short, let these businesses be rewarded by the creation of a greater legacy than simply placating their shareholders by lining their wallets.

5. The will to deliver

Within a period of just ten years, with such a commitment of resources, there is no reason why we cannot produce a range of technologies and environmentally sustainable, economically viable solutions to all of the problems we have right now.

However, no amount of technology can solve social problems, or avoid political intransigence, exploitation and corruption. Such things must not be tolerated. We are well beyond the point of time-intensive mediation kid-glove arbitration — belligerent and dictatorial governments need to educated as to the perils of non-cooperation, both politically and economically.

Borders, be they political or national, must be bestrode so that we may implement whatever solutions are necessary wherever they are required. Any obstruction, destruction or molestation must be dealt with by force, if required. Absolutely nothing must hinder or stop the implementation of these technologies.

We can deal with political delicacies, land rights and cultural offenses in those years after we’ve saved the earth from this rampant species we call man.

A new world order

Let’s be clear, such a colossal investment of human effort would be the cause of massive upheaval, most likely ruining several nations, as well as hundreds of thousands of businesses all around the world, possibly driving tens of millions of people into unemployment. None of this matters.

As tax payers, in the aftermath of arguably the greatest financial disaster in human history, we are now stakeholders in some of the largest banking institutions on earth. After we have solved the energy crisis and repaired our delicate environment, we will all be the equal stakeholders in the very future of the earth.

That is a legacy worth paying for, at any price…

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Comment and be known

Step By Step Directions → Friday, 10 July 2009 @ 3:39 BDT

“Nations whose commercial interests are in direct conflict with broader environmental initiatives (such as Brazil and Indonesia who’re contributing most to deforestation and the loss of other natural resources and habitats) must either be coerced into cooperating, or have their civilian governments suspended, while international aid is provided to their people, if need be.”

I think it is a good idea to coerce to cooperate those countries whose economy is founded on industries that are in conflict with environmental initiatives. In addition to this, a law for the reduction of energy consumption should also be implemented io countries that consume most of the world’s energy, such as Japan and the US.

Wayne Smallman → Saturday, 11 July 2009 @ 10:00 BDT

I know it’s a much used (and almost throw-away) observation these days, but if we were to commit as much money to saving the planet as we spend on sophisticated methods of killing each other, there wouldn’t be an environment problem…

Tyler → Monday, 8 February 2010 @ 17:13 BDT

You’re an idiot. Ignoring the political, financial and economic factors of solving the energy crisis makes all of your suggestions nothing but words on paper. Yes we need to fix the energy crisis, but let’s think sensical about this and not ignore the very real technicalities of politics.

Wayne Smallman → Monday, 8 February 2010 @ 17:22 BDT

Tyler, this might come as a crushing surprise to you, but the reason we are ALL in this mess is because of “the political, financial and economic factors” you appear so eager to place your faith in.

Politics has singularly failed everyone, the world over. Copenhagen. Need I say more?

And what of the finances? Did you not bother reading this article before you decided to comment? You and I bailed out the real idiots, those being the bankers. Is that not an act of financial lunacy, or do you find yourself making a special case for finance and not the planet? I sincerely hope not.

We are past the point of incremental change, and beyond any margin from which politicians dare step, for fear of imperiling their reputations.

And what of the words of the politicians you so clearly prize the words of? Their actions are often worse than mere words on paper — they are often little more than thinly-veiled acts of betrayal and deceit.

Go count your money. Go write to you senators and ministers. See where all those things get you.

You’re blind, Tyler. Blind and inured by your life and too scarred to contemplate the inevitable.

Hope is no kind of plan. That’s the domain of idiots and you’re welcome to it.

Bradley → Saturday, 20 February 2010 @ 18:07 BDT

If we use hemp seed oil its a renewable and sustainable substance that burns cleaner than gasoline or tar sands oil and it wont get your engine dirty it can also replace nuclear, oil, and coal powered electricity from company’s

Wayne Smallman → Friday, 5 March 2010 @ 9:51 BDT

Hi Bradley, the problem is that you still have to grow hemp in sufficient quantities to be used as a fuel source, which will compete with food production.

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