Thought of the Day: How Long Until We Switch?

Welcome to Thought of the Day! Join Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield as she poses a thought of the day inspired by recent news events.

In a recent AMA, a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that we’ll destroy the planet before we run out of fossil fuels completely. But just what will it take before society stops using fossil fuels en-masse and starts using renewable energy instead?

Watch the video above and leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • CDspeed

    Sadly, we do like to clean up a mess after it’s been made. There always seems to be people who ignore or even fight against change even if it’s positive. I remember years ago a local school wanted to put in a walking bridge over a busy road for the kids to cross. The city argued it was too expensive, citizens didn’t want their taxes going toward it. There is one now, but only after a boy in the school was killed crossing the road. It was named in his honor, but it didn’t have to be, but there is an example of how we do things.

  • Solar (PV) is cheap and effective in sunny countries reasonably close to the equator. In the UK, at 54 degrees north solar gives us 9 times less energy in winter than summer, and that a problem, because we use a lot of energy for heating in the winter, and because it makes grid integration of lots of PV very hard. So whilst solar can indeed run much of the world, its use in northern climes is limited. Nuclear and wind both work a lot better here for example. And onshore wind is cheaper than both nuclear or solar in the UK, with much improved capacity factors (now 45% vs 22% back in 2009 when David McKay wrote SEWTHA, for example).

    I’m not waiting for a disaster to make changes – I notoiced claimate change was a big deal about a decade ago and in that time I’ve insulated my house to AECB silver, installed solar thermal and PV 6 years ago, added MVHR, have a woodburner for winter heating, cycle everywhere, travel in Europe by train, use a telepresence robot for conferences, have gone ‘mostly’ veggie, try not to buy anything I don’t need, and have invested in community energy.

    But this still isn’t normal, and I’m surrounded by people who take 10-20 flights/yr drive 3 miles to work, eat steak like there are no other options, and still won’t buy an electric car because they might have to charge it en-route once/month. These aren’t bad people, and aren’t ‘deniers’, but they don’t sense any urgency, and need bashing over the head with it to make any real lifestyle changes.

    I get increasingly angry about the disconnect between physics and perception.