Sustaining Future

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What makes me sleepless?

Human civilisation is facing unprecedented challenge: over population, peak everything and climate change.

Over population, especially when the main growth will be coming from undeveloped and developing countries, is certainly a human tragedy. At the current population level, the hunger is caused mainly due to inequity. Just as an example, 5% of the world's population consumes 23% of world's energy. If that inequity is spread more equitably, many people would not have fallen under the poverty line. While a solution is not forthcoming any time soon, a reasonably effective solution is just a matter of political will.

Peak everything is a physical limitation which we should be aware of long time ago. Unfortunately, somehow, it has been under the radar for too long. The main economic driver was energy. In 2006, 36% of world's energy came from oil. As oil runs out, many traditional ways of life have to change. However, renewable sources will replace the portion currently supplied by oil. It is not a matter of "if", it is just a matter of "when". During the process, huge business opportunities are available. Imagine replacing all American's cars with electric cars. Imagine installing solar panels on every roof top in the world. Switching to renewable energy sources will NOT cost money. Switching to renewable energy actually helps to build a country's economy. Is there sufficient solar energy to meet the need? Yes, many many times over. It is estimated that the sun provides 8000 times the energy per year consumed in 2004. Even at a one percent conversion efficiency, the sun provides us with 80 times the energy we need (yearly averaged). [source]

Yes, oil is used to produce fertilizers. If we stop burning oil, it can be used to produce fertilizers. Better still, perma-culture has proven itself to be a more productive and sustainable technique - and in permaculture, the nature fertilises itself!

So, both over population and peak everything do not really make me sleepless. What has kept me awake at night is climate. The IPCC climate model has been too optimistic about the effect of the green house gases. In this video, Dan Miller (chapter 2 in the video) shows the summer ice cover in the North pole. The IPCC model is way too optimistic. The satellite image indicates that the North pole will not be covered by ice in the summer as early as 2017. Do human still have sufficient time to prevent the run-away effect of global warming? Do we still have to argue whether human was responsible? What we need today is action. If we do not start removing CO2 from the atmosphere, our grand children will not survive!



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