5 Things You Can Do To Save The Earth

#1: Stop using plastic bags.
#2: Turn light bulbs off every so often.
#3: Recycle.
#4: Drive less.
#5: Feel content in the knowledge of a job well done.

Great. Job done. Now the climate will calm down, there will be plenty of energy for everyone and, why not, even the recession will be but a bad dream.

Argh. Now, I’m not saying that doing the above things is bad, in fact I do encourage you all to do them. That said, we do need to maintain just a tiny little bit of perspective, here.

We, as Humans, are special. As far as I am aware, we are the only species on the Earth who are not content with mere survival. We do not seek merely to exist; we seek to grow, to be comfortable and happy. These desires, these drives and this ability to think beyond the immediate is what separates us from all other life.

We seek ever improving quality in our standard of living, and while it is debatable if we are actually achieving this, it is true that energy is inextricably linked with our modern day high standards. Hot water on demand? Light during the night? What madness is this? 100 years ago we would have been considered hedonistic to crave even the basics of what we have today.

So, we as a race are not going to be giving this up, and neither should we. What I have listed above are the kind of “green tips” I read often in magazines and hear on the radio. I have even seen a book with the title something along the lines of “How you can stop climate change”.

What? Excuse me? Unless I run a multinational corporation with huge resources at my disposal, there is pretty much nothing I personally can do to “stop climate change”. To be honest, I am one of those people who would like to run said multinational corporation and actually have the power to change the world, but that may have to wait a while. What is the regular person supposed to do, or even think? I plan to dedicate my life to this field, but most are not in that position.

You are told to install energy efficient light bulbs. You MUST drive a hybrid car, and drive less. If you choose not to, the “green police” will come and get you. Why? You should be able to drive as much as you want, surely? If you want to have all the lights in your home on while you go off on holiday, why not? Granted, you will have a massive electricity bill, but go for it. Energy has become a right, not a privilege, and the structure of our society should reflect this. Energy must be as cheap and abundant as the everything else we now consider “essential”. You want food but you want to buy it from a…shop? What about your farm? Oh you think food is a right? Of course it is; now, anyway.

Why must we have cheap access to abundant energy? Our society is now so dependent on energy that the loss of it would cause our society to crumble from beneath our feet. We don’t want that. Neither, however, do we want to see a world where energy is accessible only by the rich few. Therefore, out of necessity, we must change our sources of energy.

So far we have enjoyed very cheap and abundant energy supplies. The problem is that this era of cheap fuels is coming to an end: we’ve already seen one fuel utopia come and go. Our society has developed around fossil fuels. Eep, hang on, they are running out. Oh, and we also failed to notice that they are poisoning us (even disregarding climate change). We have to stop burning them. But wait! That goes completely against my argument that energy should be cheap and abundant, no?

No! Fossil fuels are the very thing standing in the way of cheap and abundant energy. We are currently reliant on them, and our society is structured such that fossil fuels, in abundance, are immensely cheap, because that is the basic right and demand of the consumer. Unfortunately, the same reliance that made them cheap in abundance will make them extortionately expensive in scarcity.

What is the solution? For one thing, we cannot be reliant on a single source of energy. There are many clean, renewable options, which could provide a vast amount of energy, given time. We also have other options (like nuclear power, but keep it quiet) that could be implemented to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Now I’m going to commit “green” blasphemy: I do not believe we will ever stop using fossil fuels, at least not until the day when the world becomes bone dry of them. Fossil fuels do have their place, but as long as they are used sparingly and we are not dependent on them as a primary fuel source, then all will be well.

What would I like to see? I would like to see a world where energy flows cheaply into every home in the world. We will be comfortable that however much we use, there will be more and using it is not causing harm or damaging our little planet in any way. We will not live in fear that there will be power cuts, high prices, and even wars over who gets what little energy there is left.

Why did I list those things at the top? Well, it was to demonstrate who has the power to make a difference. There is a lot of truth in the argument that market forces drive innovation and change, but the people who buy the products, drive the cars and so forth do not want change. They are the ones who have the energy and the myriad of products which consume it. The people who think that using fewer plastic bags will matter in any way yet drive a mile to get to the shop are also those who will suffer the most when it all goes wrong.

Politicians, businesses, governments, charities, NGOs and the like must have the foresight to do something. Stop blaming the people for living their lives the best way they know how in difficult times. Instead of chastising people for driving cars with poor fuel economies which emit masses of pollutants, provide the people will decent alternatives. People should not have to feel guilty about using energy.

Cheap, abundant energy = a high quality of living = eliminating poverty = stopping climate change = stopping wars = frankly, a huge step forward to a more civilised civilisation. This should be our ultimate goal.

Thanks for reading.