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Published on September 17th, 2019 | by Barry A.F.

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Will A Watershed Event Turn The Tide Against Fossil Fuels?

September 17th, 2019 by  


History is replete with turning points, often caused by watershed events. From the change in the world order after World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall to countless other turning points in history, things that seemed insurmountable or impossible to alter dragged on for decades or even centuries, and then suddenly change happened very quickly.

Hurricane Harvey from the International Space Station, August 28th, 2017. Photo by Randy Bresnik/NASA

Right now we are facing an existential crisis, despite the fact conservatives deny the reality of climate change and the media doing their bidding (thanks to bullying, bothsiderism, and disinterest) climate change quickly threatens the future of the planet and the human race.

At the moment everyone is talking about the attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, but the chances of this particular incident turning the public towards electrification and the climate mitigation (and resilience) that comes with it are extremely small. The only real effects at the moment will be a slightly higher price for gas/diesel. Of course dotard could use it as rationalization for nuking the planet.

But the future is not yet written. Younger generations are overwhelmingly aware of the looming threat, and it is virtually guaranteed the tide will turn at some point, although when and why cannot yet be answered. Will it come with oil prices skyrocketing if supply suddenly gets cut off or from peak oil (even if climate change did not exist, oil will eventually run out), or from voters electing reality embracing candidates (Jay Inslee, the climate change candidate is already off the ticket), or a watershed moment that will convince many that we need to electrify immediately?

Change is happening organically, and if we had the time we could just wait while economics and China’s global ambitions bring us renewable technology, but we don’t have that kind of time. Tesla or VW or others could help speed things along by educating the public that they can save money and save the planet with EVs. Smart organizations can also educate customers that they can do the same with community solar, wind, and battery storage.

So what are possible turning points? An oil price shock, a dramatic rise in fossil powered electricity costs (Australia being an example) a major climate-related weather event, climate lawsuits leading to huge damages being put towards clean energy, massive dollar voting/boycotts, divestment, mandates phasing out pollution/carbon, learning curves accelerating (battery price/performance leapfrogging), subsidies for renewables, Chinese EV/solar/wind/battery exports, Greta Thunberg, a landslide vote for climate change candidates, a mainstream candidate initialing a Marshall Plan-type project, or better yet, the Green New Deal? Or could it be other yet unenvisioned events?

There are many possibilities, and it may take a combination of them to get serious about fighting carbon, but this problem can be defeated with the technology we have, we just have to decide en masse to use it.

People will whine about why change can’t happen, but the real point is that they don’t want change to happen. The status quo or comfortable change is preferred to “radical” change. However, if there is a convincing reason for change it will be embraced. This may be the secret of watershed events, that they change opinions of what is possible and simultaneously become the impetus for change, making it possible and even preferred. If EVs were available by the millions in 2008 at an identical price in EV or combustion engine form, no one would have been whining about range anxiety or any other complaint, and they would have sold like hotcakes.

While writing this article, I was reminded of the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episodes Past Tense Part 1 and 2 which feature three officers from the future being transported to the year 2024. It is more about a watershed moment in social progress, but in our world social progress is tied to climate change since the same people who want hate at any cost think climate change denial is worth the cost of destroying ourselves. Hence a good percentage of conservatives who accept climate change still vote for hate or climate denial. If all who accepted climate change voted for a candidate who had a realistic plan to fight it, we would have a change of direction today. Hence hate at any cost will truly destroy everyone, not just directly but indirectly.

As this is an opinion and thought piece please add your own thoughts to the comments and expect the trolls to show up, as change is antithetical to their worldview and political interests, which will prove the point of this article.

[Featured image: Hurricane Harvey from the International Space Station, August 28th, 2017. Photo by Randy Bresnik, via NASA] 
 
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About the Author

I've had an interest in renewable energy and EVs since the days of deep cycle lead acid conversions and repurposed drive motors (and $10/watt solar panels). How things have changed. Also I have an interest in systems thinking (or first principles as some call it), digging into how things work from the ground up. Did you know that 97% of all Wikipedia articles link to Philosophy? A very small percentage link to Pragmatism.



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