Energy Impoverished Planet?
Over the weekend, I came across an excellent set of videos from the Art Center Summit 2009 held last January in Pasadena. The title of the conference is “Expanding the Vision of Sustainable Mobility,” and features a wonderful set of presenters from Jim Woolsey and Andy Karsner to Amory Lovins and Cal Tech’s Nathan Lewis.
While I found all of the talks and panel discussions excellent — and I highly recommend you watch them — it was Dr. Lewis’ presentationthat struck a resonant chord with me, largely for its pessimism, underscored by his challenge that in the future — if we are to have an energy-equitable world — the population of the planet is going to have to learn to live on the equivalent of just 2kW per person per day, half of which will come from our food. On average, we Americans consume ten times that number, while the vast majority of the planet’s poor aren’t even at a kiloWatt.
It got me to thinking about the choices ahead of us and the thought that unless we find new ways of producing energy that can be affordable by all and still, at the same time, not degrade the planet, my fear is that by 2100, not only will Earth be an unpleasant place to live, it will be a cold and dark one. Granted, the earth enjoys abundant amounts of renewable energy that can be tapped, but how do we continue to be a species of explorers that send probes to other planets and searches the heavens for other signs of life, if our descendants become the equivalent of Hobbits?
Maybe that’s why I continue to hold out the hope that phenomena like cold fusion or Nikola Tesla’s earth energy or, yes, even extra-terrestial technologies (a.k.a., UFOs) might someday prove a reality that can be equitably shared among our fellow citizens of Planet Earth. But before that happens, we will have to mature to the point where we really do care for our fellow man as much as we care for ourselves. As long as we fear what others might do with such powerful technologies, we will never want them to have it and it will forever remain cloaked in a conspiracy of silence… assuming, of course, it even exists.