Late reflections on sustainable energy event
I thoroughly enjoyed the event held on the last day of the Offshore Europe exhibition where I had spent four days on a stand. An exhibition without a single offshore wind, wave or tidal power exhibit or conference paper.
Alan Owen of Robert Gordon’s University gave a chilling presentation on climate change and the impact renewables could have on the problem. His fact filled analysis was that it is too late. We simply cannot deploy enough green power on time to make a difference.
The good news for Marxists is that he certainly presented a mathematically sound case for capitalism being the death of us. The bad news is – it will be the death of us. And all the animal species not actually in our food chain. As chair I had the chance to ask when he had finished, “So, Malthus will have his revenge then?” His stark reply was, “It looks like it.”
I have heard Maggie Chapman speak a few times. I have heard her speak with passion. But I have never seen her cheeks change colour, as she did rebutting Thomas Malthus and all his works. She was ready to carry on this conversation later with anyone who wanted to, she remonstrated. Wow, Maggie – tell us what you REALLY think. I had to go home immediately after the event, so I have not had the chance of that conversation with Maggie. I am looking forwards to it.
Why the rush of blood? I guess the binary choice that Green politics believes we have is between living in balance with nature, or a Mathusian dystopia. That there is an option we can chose other than the total degradation of the biosphere is what they are all about. So perhaps we saw the very passion that put her into politics in the first place.
Up until now there has always been a Deus ex Machina to save us from Malthusian mathematics. The iron plough, the steam engine, artificial fertilisers. Alan’s thesis is that even if we did, for example, invent clean fusion power tomorrow – we don’t have time to deploy it. Now the only thing that can save us, is us.
After the gig I was delighted to see a friend for the first time since her pregnancy looking, well, radiant. She went straight for the pulse, as is her wont. “How do you do it?” she wanted to know. “What? Work for the Oil and Gas industry?” I asked.
I told her all taxpayers are complicit in the state we are in. But on reflection the complicity goes much deeper. As Alan didn’t quite say – the impending climate change catastrophe is not a supply side problem. Everyone of us in the western world uses too much power. Plan “A” is that the poorest five billion-ish people die of hunger or thirst. This seems a trifle reckless even by the standards of the plutocracy. You can’t just turn the temperature back down once the eugenics experiment is over. No, this time we really are all in it together.