Climate change was not one of those things that occupied much of my time. Yes, I was concerned and believed that something had to be done but was relatively happy with the progress that mankind was making. That is until I read ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein. Now I am terrified by the prospect of the world in chaos caused by our obsession with cheap energy.
I hope it is not too late to turn it around, yet I fear we have gone too far to repair the damage that we have done to the planet on which we live.
The problem, in my opinion, is cheap energy. We all want it and have become addicted to it. We are pushing the boundaries of extractive technologies further and further in our pursuit of more hydrocarbons on the promise that we need them to cover the gap between now and when cleaner technologies take over. But it is never enough. Just one more is never the last one and if nothing changes we will go on until the last drop of oil and last lump of coal have been exhausted.
Why do I say the problem is cheap energy? Because energy is what has transformed our economies from subsistence to industrial consumers. Cheap energy makes it cost effective to transport things we don’t need halfway round the globe. It makes it easier to jump in the car than walk down the road to the shops. It makes it easier to turn up the thermostat than put on a jumper. It makes it cheaper to buy a new one than to mend it.
Until now, and for a long time to come, much of the energy we use will come from burning fossil fuels, contributing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and exacerbating our climate crisis.
What do we do then? Put the price of fossil fuel up now. Hike it up so that it reflects the actual cost to the environment and use the money raised to do two things: firstly to invest in green reusable technologies and; secondly to provide an income to those who will be most affected by the cost rise.
For humans to survive we need to change the way we treat the earth and its environment. We need to do it now. It may already be too late.