In our enthusiasm for renewable energy and electric vehicles, we need to be aware that during this massive disruption, people are going to get hurt. Company shares may drop to $0, assets may be stranded, and people will either lose their jobs or have to be retrained. Sounds, smells, and objects which are well known to most will become rare. We may end up with some sort of fossil fuel withdrawal syndrome — future shock, perhaps.
As we say farewell to the internal combustion engine, we need to treat its passing with dignity and respect. How do we do this? Not sure.
The saddest thing for me will be the countless young people training for careers that will soon no longer exist. Do we give them advice? How do we know if it’s good advice? We will always need watchmakers — but fewer and fewer. We need typewriter mechanics, but even fewer. Car mechanics will become like large animal vets, scarce and expensive. Those who can adapt will be fine. But many will be unable to adapt and will suffer.
To achieve a just and socially supportive transition, we need to plan. In order to plan, we need to see. If those who make tactical economic decisions cannot see (perhaps because of excaecatus pecunia syndrome), then the suffering will be intense for the most vulnerable.
I see green shoots emerging. Volkswagen is retraining its workers to make electric cars. The Latrobe Valley is turning into a Renewable Energy Zone. But we need more.
What is even more exciting is entrepreneurs finding niche areas in which to thrive and prosper. Some good examples are James Pauly of Traction EV, who converts people’s beloved iconic cars from petrol to electric, and David from EV Charging Australia, which provides a mobile charging service for those who need it. There’s also Peter Benardos, General Manager of EV Automotive, who went from selling fleet ICE cars to importing electric vans that can be outfitted as campers for our growing army of grey nomads.
We will all find our way to adapt.
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