Since last writing my observations in June of this year, a lot has happened in the North American climate and renewables space, much of it not good.
On the positive side; Corporate renewable energy procurement in the US is way, way up. Battery energy storage continues to make strides and market traction. Sales of EVs generally continues to surge (the Tesla Model 3 outsold all of BMW’s models combined this Summer, even as its CEO continued to walk a finer and finer edge). Interest in solar energy across residential and commercial users continues to trend up, as the recent spectacular cost declines penetrates the consciousness of a wider marketplace. When history looks back on the end of 2018, it will conclude we certainly had all the right pieces in play for a sustainable energy transition, and with a respectable level of momentum. But it will also harshly judge us, for winning these battles while losing the war.
For even as society and its economies take a clear turn towards the light, its political and cultural struggle for an identity, and a commitment to bettering our direction, suffers from a grievous and worsening psychosis. I can’t think of any other way to put it. Criminal bigots are seizing the election processes, and actively undermining attempts to reform it. Frightened, angry people, mostly white men, are voting for them, while becoming increasingly brazen in their violence and misogyny. Lying on an institutional level is becoming common place, whether in the media, from the politician’s mouth, or between groups and individuals. And it seems it all churns around the axis of those who accept our fossil fuel-based economies and emissions are driving dangerous climate change on Earth, and those who cling to the notion that we are not, or that we have time. All the while the effects of that atmospheric acidification have roared to life, surrounding the world in a global wildfire that reached terrifying levels this Summer.
As both Canadian and US people prepare to endure a cycle of civic, state-level, or national elections over the coming months, and into Spring of 2019, one thing has become ice-cold clear to me: We’re on the bubble, for real.
I fully believe the best reason to invest in and install renewable energy is fast transiting from mitigation to adaptation. What does that even mean? Decentralized, resilient, quiet, clean, renewable, survival energy resources. Wind, solar, run-of-river hydro and geothermal energy have the potential to power a now-present human age of Survival such as civilization has not endured since the Fall of Rome and the following Dark Ages. Its going to be the evolution of our current efforts to meet “lofty” Paris climate agreements, etc, etc. And no we’re not moving to the Moon, or Mars. Not this round.
This is not a mere opinion based on apocalyptic hollywood day-dreaming. It is rather a willingness to apply the “climate lens” to everything, peer through it, and see in horror what it reveals. A world already too far gone to prevent the worst effects of climate change, and a population woefully unprepared and grotesquely at war with itself. So the game is changing, quickly. “Success” will be defined very differently over the coming years. It will be determined by those who pivot fast, and factor in the cascading collapse of our super-integrated, industrialized world. It requires zooming out 1,000 miles, and seeing the Earth and all life and death on it, as part of a terrestrial continuum that reaches deep into the past and far into the future. And ask ourselves:
Where do we, humanity, want to be 500 years from now, in 2518? Actually feel the sense of personal connection to the answer, and the future human population, our descendants, that embodies it. For there to be a post-apocalyptic future presence for our species, beyond leaving simple rudimentary traces, requires much more courageous thinking than most are prepared to consider. But I’ve considered it. Do I feel ready, confident, clear of intention? Not nearly enough so. But what matters is the awareness, the honesty, and the effort. Our kids deserve nothing less when they remember their human family that failed to prevent the global destruction of their planet’s environment, as it all turned on a screw, in 2018.