We’re in a hole and it’s getting deeper. Every year we use more power, driving in our car to work and shop and back again where we use energy to heat us and to cool us. Using computers, watching TV, cooking, reading nearly everything we do uses power. Our civilisation just cannot survive without it.
On the other hand we are told that our energy use produces CO2 and this is causing global warming plus the oil and gas are running out .
So what are our options?
We need energy but we could reduce our usage. Low energy light bulbs, turn down the thermostat, insulate etc etc. All good ideas but a lot of people just can’t be bothered. Market forces in our free economy keep the price as low as possible, this encourages higher usage. We could tax our power, as we do already with petrol, but then we have the problem of the elderly and infirm who can’t afford to heat their homes in winter.
There is, of course, a fair answer. We did it to cope with food shortages and there is no reason why we couldn’t do it with energy. Rationing. We could even allow freedom of choice by putting a huge tax on energy and using our ration coupons to offset the tax. The ‘average ‘ person would be allowed so many thousand kilowatt hours per year and those with special needs would get additional hours.
So if you were careful and frugal with your power you would pay no more than you do today but if you wanted to use a patio heater to heat the world you would pay 5 times more for the over use. You can leave your TV on standby but you’ll pay five times more for the electricity.
They’ll not do it, of course. Everyone will feel they are special.
Renewable energy sources are less damaging to the environment but try and build a wind farm and all hell breaks loose. The noise, the disruption – not in my backyard.
OK, so you don’t want wind power, at least next door. Wave power has yet to live up to its promise so let’s stick to reality and forget that unless they do get it to work.
Gas, coal and oil are out. Using them to generate electric power has never been a good idea. The generation overhead means the delivered power to the door is very inefficient. Plus those are the fuels producing the CO2 and running out. so forget it.
That leaves us with nuclear power. OK, it’s potentially dangerous. Chernobyl. But the western safety record for nuclear power is very good. Waste products are a problem but the amounts are actually quite small and released radioactivity from nuclear power is actually less than that from the ash produced by coal fired power stations.
So if we want a civilisation we need to reduce our power usage by eliminating waste, accept wind farms even if they are next door and build some nuclear power plants.
None of them are happy prospects. But if we are going to survive we need to accept that things can not carry on as they have. It’s time to grow up and accept there is no perfect solution and we can’t have our cake and eat it.