Now some of you may already have picked up on the fact that I’m a huge fan of Tom Murphy’s ‘Do the math’ blog, and he has come up with a great analogy. He likens the alternative energy sources to emergency exits on a plane – everyone takes comfort from knowing they are there, but just because we can rattle off a lot of names for alternative energy sources, doesn’t mean those ‘exits’ will be available or viable when we need them. Going back to the analogy of emergency exits on a plane, imagine that after a crash landing, one exit is wedged shut, there’s a fire directly outside another exit, and while you can’t see the other exits, there are some panicked shouts coming from behind you that don’t bode well… You get the picture, right?
The answers seem relatively easy now while we still have liquid fossil fuels, but if we don’t start making changes while there is still a surplus, we’ll be stuffed. New infrastructure for alternative energy sources will require the very energy that is in short supply (see Tom’s blog post about the energy trap).
And what if we’re wrong? What if the perfect solution is just around the corner, and we’re just wasting our time trying to live more sustainably and come up with alternative energy sources? Well, as best I can tell, we won’t have lost much, apart from a wasteful lifestyle that seems to leave people feeling unhappier and less satisfied as time goes on. The question is, what will we lose if the perfect solution is not around the next corner?
There are no miracles in science, and we are going to be badly disappointed if we expect science to solve all our problems by “magic”. Can anyone give me an example of an actual problem solved by technology? The example only counts if the ‘solution’ didn’t cause a bigger problem…