We are sleepwalking into an ever more deteriorated situation as we keep giving deference to the fossil fuel companies. They push on, cognizant of their mortality beyond which nothing matters, as they don’t care (apparently) for anyone but themselves. Shell families, often expat, children in an expensive school, father too bussy to see them. This is a recipy for intergenerational indifference. What about giving your children the same starting point as you had yourself? That’s nowhere on the minds of the people in the fossil fuel industry.
Solving the climate problem (or the global heat accumulation problem as we would like it be called) requires vision, you have to see the solutions, understand them, reject a lot of them because they are too complex. Many people have to be involved, which is fine because the benefit of their work will mostly be theirs as well.
But all this needs to happen in the fossil economic context. We already wrote a piece “Fossil fuels, a limit to growth”. How is this true? Well, if you want things to move, and you only have fossil fuels to make them move (for ease of argument). Then the number of things you can make move is finite, as the supply of fossil fuels is finite. This means that if you want to do something new, you need to take fossil fuel resources from another project. That is why our money system tries to maintain its integrity, so that there is no money trying to buy fossil fuel that doesn’t exist (which would show up as inflation).
Consequently, fossil fuels/money will go for 90% to wastefull activities, and 10% perhaps to stuff that makes fossil fuels obsolete. Those 10% will actually add to the total energy available to both make products and deplete (natural) resources. The economy is not geared to replenishing resources, so even if all energy is renewable, we still are risking a barren Earth, but that has to do with revising economics.
In short, if fossil fuel economics remains the dominant philosophy, and we can’t get a grip on fossil in some kind of emergency fashion, the allocation of fossil (and thus other) resources to renewables and climate action will remain low.
On the other hand, if fossil economics is replaced by roboeconomics (where robots running on renewables are used to provide what we need, and restore our ecosystems), then the way to think about this transition becomes different. The push would become to transition as fast as possible, even while restricting availability of many luxuries, because once the solar panel factories (and their associated supply chain) can run on solar, the production cost of the panels would fall to zero, and adoption would explode. Energy is so fundamental to creating wealth that even in our economy it’s market driven nature is nothing but a charade. Banks and energy companies are not normal economic entities. But if this became too clear we would know their power and we would find our way out as we have to in the end.
The above tries to show that thinking of climate action in terms of money is nonsensical. If at any time in the future the world is producing 200% of its energy needs from renewables, we won’t have to pay for much really. There will not be crazy stockmarkets of flash cash. Why? Because our money supply will probably only be used to aquire human labour, and the number of humans doesnt change that dramatically over time, certainly not in the eugeninst future we are now creating.
When coal, oil, gas have all shut down, when the methane burp takes hold and drives up temperatures, we must hope there are islands of energy security where humans can still make a plan and try to execute it. The good news is that robotics will make it possible to reach every corner of the planet, at least as long as there is an industry that makes all the parts. The bad news is that we are then in a situation so bad our chances to recover are close to zero.
We need courage and leadership, where courage is necessary to aquire power, and leadership means someone that carries a vision of a safe climate outcome which we can practically achieve. The market is not going to fix it, even though we should definitely use it while it is there. At the same time as we try to get the economy to accelerate the change to renewables (which is hard because banks don’t like it), we need a path of Hoover Dam style projects to drive renewables production and restore biomass on land and at sea. To do that we need energy, and that will be mostly fossil at first. This in turn means we need to take that from the wealth creation system, and this means life will get a bit more boring.
The vision of leaders also needs to be about what life we can afford, how we can make it good enough. This should be easier now that many of us spend so much time on virtual experiences. That can be a good thing if it reduces the need for natural resources, but a bad thing if it means people get indoctrinated and consumerized more by those that dominate VR/AR content. The latter also depends on whether we still use the fossil economic principles or Roboeconomic ones.
A global plan to fight climate change is not about keeping temperatures under 2 degrees, it is about abandoning methods and habits that have proven to be destructive, and adopting a global culture that be a basis for a century of renewable growth. It is not clear how the cacophony now created by the ‘market value’ of green initiatives will crystalize into one narative, one plan to succeed. We think we need visionary leaders with their own cash on hand (or a group of citizen that will take what is needed), to build the outline of our future society today, and show others that adoption of it’s principles will be a good work that leads to a happier healthier and human friendly future.