The Climate Wars

I am amused by the extremism of both "sides" of this "debate" - two camps racing for the far extremes, well beyond any range of claims made by the IPCC report in particular or the broader range of reasonable scientific interpretations in general.

Why amusement? Because there are great opportunities for creative thinking here, different from both "business as usual" and already fossilized "alternative energy as defined decades ago". If we extrapolated from 1880, we would expect New York City to be hip deep in horse poop by now. Yes, cars have replaced some of the horses, but subways and elevators in tall buildings and Fedex have replaced more. Internet, telepresence, and the miniaturization of durable goods will redefine transportation in the future.

Manufacturing? Smaller items need less material input. Better chemical processes use less energy. More water conservation in agriculture saves big bucks for an expensive primary input. A smart phone is a tiny amount of mass and energy combined with a huge amount of knowledge and cleverness. In a few decades, that smart phone will be a few milligrams of implantables grown on a microscope slide.

Extend to other reasons we use energy. One of the biggest is heating. That's why northern tier countries have much higher energy consumption than their southern neighbors. We are getting better at insulation and building design. Perhaps that will shift to the personal scale, too, and we will stop heating and cooling the air not touching skin and lungs.

Creative thinking will yield more wealth and more energy efficiency than all solar panels and windmills and electric cars combined, conspicuous consumption showpieces that badge the owner as hip and fashionable rather than financially prudent. The mix of technologies we use 20 or 50 or 100 years from now will not be vast iterations of fashionable "green" toys, but an extrapolation of "more with less", sybaritic luxuries produced cheaply at mass scale, earning big profits for the new industries producing them from almost zero material input.

The zealots of the extreme positions will be so busy pushing their obsolete agendas and closing their minds to non-extreme ideas that they won't notice and won't participate. They will end up embittered, impoverished, and irrelevant.

Those of us designing alternatives, not for their ideological correctness but for their customer-pleasing superiority and their parsimonious use of expensive resources, can win big. Invention is the creative combination of phenomena, and those understanding the most phenomena have the biggest palette to paint the future with. Learn about climate and CO2 and all the other things, not to prove or disprove a political position, but to harness their economic potential. 6.999 billion of us won't figure out how, but all it takes is a few.

ClimateWars (last edited 2014-06-10 10:50:55 by KeithLofstrom)