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Events and changing times …Massive #renewables programme

August 7, 2013

Events change circumstances when you examine matters from a historical perspective.

When you are immersed in the moment and confronting major political need for change the sheer scale of the challenge is daunting and immense .

From the comfortable distance of the historians examination of events it is always a narrative that changes and achieves or fails in its objectives in a seemingly inevitable manner that makes outcomes logical and clearly understandable , but not at the time.

Unlike theories of evolution that assume all development is a progression social and economic outcomes sometime reverse a pattern and matters revert rather improve .

Before the arrival of nuclear weapons and power generation it was only disease that could threaten massive destruction away from the battlefield and the distant knowledge of an ice age the only expression of Nature’s awesome cataclysmic  power that was capable of fundamentally altering our environment.

Industrialisation and population expansion since  the mid 1800’s has created market places and demand for consumer goods and processes of manufacture that have become totally dependent upon carbon based fuels to such an extent that it is now indisputable we risk totally polluting our bio-sphere and exhausting our planets natural resources without  seemingly having the ability to moderate either the velocity of that imminent disaster or the will to alter our behaviour consciously to avoid our potential demise.

I have previously discussed the reasons for our behaviour manifested in various forms of “denial” to avoid the reality of our terminal behaviour and as an expression of alienation or separation from Nature itself and do not propose to repeat that analysis , rather I am intrigued by how we will actually come to address our problems. Will  we be reduced to a reactive status in the face of a massive collapse and overwhelming socio-political environmental events that  have an uncontrollable momentum or do we find a pathway through what increasingly commentators identify as inevitable crisis if we remain in denial.

Science and technology have “managed away” or mitigated almost every obstacle  confronting the environment until the last fifty years when the sheer scale of consumption and population growth have outpaced our capacity to avert the consequences of our nihilistic behaviour.

History says “events” and developments will bring about changes but not necessarily without painful adjustment and it’s currently difficult if not  nearly impossible to predict where the political leadership will be found to bring about positive managed change . In this light it was extraordinary to listen to Lord King , scientific adviser to governments, out of nowhere state unequivocally earlier this  week that “we” must embark with total commitment to develop vast renewable solar energy without delay.

Given that politicians always talk up an idea for effect and often have little conviction in  their words Lord King’s statement was different in several important ways. Firstly he was and is a very much  establishment figure not given to hyperbole  and his words were unequivocal ……he made it very plain without a massive programme of solar and renewable energy investment on a scale not previously envisaged we have no chance to survive in the world economy and, the environment will race to 450 ppm of carbon triggering a worse case climate change scenario of such potential destructiveness that the actual outcome will not be manageable .

Nothing radically new that hasn’t been forewarned by  climate commentators  previously but this time by a leading scientific advisor with the ear of the Government and adamant that this must be on a massive scale and fast..

Extraordinary because the statement was unambiguous and unflinching ; it was clear and undiluted from a pivotal  force in the scientific community. Further it was unique in that it acknowledged publicly the threshold of 450 ppm  carbon in the atmosphere was now a reality.

Three years ago when I first wrote about the implications of increasing carbon  levels they were drifting above 350 ppm and scientific concerns warned that 400 ppm would be untenable . Lord King acknowledges we are rampantly out of control and can now only address the problem of future energy generation as a modern economy with a quantum change he identifies as an unparalleled massive investment  programme of solar energy beyond any previous projection.

Maybe this is the event that will change our thinking and behaviour and allow historians to reflect in the future that we turned from the abyss of our own destruction very late in the day,

Hopefully others will heed  Lord Kings prophetic  suggestion or other events will alter our history. It has become imperative that we understand that Nature is not just a commodity to be exploited but is our essential life platform to be valued above all  else before in exhaustion the consequences of our reluctance to act rationally by choice is removed by “events ” .


Asthall Leigh. August 4th -7th  2013

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