At the beginning of Amory Lovins’ great book, Reinventing Fire, published in 2012 is a quote from Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939) that will inspire and motivate me for years to come.
Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.
“Traveller, there is no path. The path is made by walking.”
THE RENEWABLE ENERGY CONUNDRUM
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines conundrum as
a: a question or problem having only a conjectural answer, or
b: an intricate and difficult problem.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
The 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are intended to be… a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance…
UN, UDHR, 1948, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
Nowhere in the 30 articles does the word “energy” appear. However, access to adequate energy is a basic requirement needed to fulfill at least 9 of the 30 articles of the UDHR, if not all of them. 2012 was declared as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All,” one of the more forgettable of the International Years declared in the recent past, having generated less media coverage in 12 months than the average premier league soccer game does in one evening. Why?
Because the people who make the news don’t have an energy problem themselves. World leaders address gatherings of other world leaders to discuss the issue and then fly away to yet another global meeting, using as much energy in an hour as the poorest global citizens (and there are 2 billion of them) do in a year. So are world leaders the problem?
Not at all. Political rhetoric is only the tip of the iceberg in an ocean of words that have been spoken and written about the problem. And what about the rest of the iceberg? We don’t see it and we don’t know much about it because the iceberg is us. By us, I mean the 2 billion or so who own computers, read blogs and reside at the top of the human food chain, with relatively plentiful access to energy and all the comforts and services it brings. So should we all drown in guilt, change our errant ways, and cut down on energy use?
Of course not. Collective guilt has not solved a single problem for the world, any more than wearing hair shirts has done for the individual. In the 21st century, it’s possible to eat your cake and have it too. Follow this blog to find out more. In the coming weeks I will post information about the range of technologies in the pipeline that will help achieve this.