Since the way we power our civilization is central to almost everything we do, a shift in how we do this will transform society from top to bottom. The current gatekeepers of energy policy are those who profited from the last energy revolution (gas, oil), using their wealth and political muscle as best they can to slow our progress towards clean energy.
While their bank accounts swell, and climate change threatens all life on the planet, the writing is on the wall. We are in a race between innovation and imminent destruction possibly living in one of the most exciting times in the history of our species.
It has recently surfaced that Exxon knew of climate change triggered by fossil fuel usage, based on in-house scientific models, in the late 1970’s but did their best to suppress it from the general public. The film Merchants of Doubt based on acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway (highly recommended), does a great job of showing us just how PR firms work tirelessly to keep us misinformed and influence national policies in order to keep corporate profits high.
Inspiration to face a potentially catastrophic situation
Pre-industrial era CO2 levels were at 280 ppm (parts per million) compared to 397ppm measured in September of 2015. The safe level of atmospheric CO2 is about 350ppm. Aside from the negligent and criminal activity of these corporations and the politicians that have done their bidding, we have a potentially catastrophic situation on our hands.
We will need to find new ways to sequester carbon from the atmosphere since we are above safe levels already, and we will need a quantum and unprecedented shift to clean energy. Despite the bad news, there are many reasons to be hopeful.
Manoj Bhargava, an Indian-American billionaire, is one of many individuals leading the charge with innovations focused on energy and water. He is well aware of the importance of clean energy having created free electricity in the form of a bike that can power your house while keeping you physically fit. This is one of many reasons you will feel hopeful and inspired to watch his recently released film, Billions for Change, which you can watch below:
Manoj Bhargava is a humanitarian whose family moved to the US in 1967. He is worth around $4 billion due to the 5-Hour Energy shot which most of us have seen at the checkout counter at gas stations across the country. Coming from a place where he has seen people struggle in poverty, he believes that access to good healthcare, affordable energy and clean water are key to a better life.
As a result, he has dedicated hundreds of millions of his own wealth towards finding solutions. Wouldn’t it be great if more billionaires were concerned about making a positive impact on the environment and the less fortunate?
The solar threat to oil and gas
Another leader is Elon Musk of Tesla, who recently unveiled an electric car and a power wall compatible with rooftop solar. It is completely within reach to power the world from the sun using a very small amount of space.
The establishment powers of oil and gas are doing everything in their power to stop Tesla from getting their products into the market. Regulations in the United States, even Australia have been in place by the same powers that be who perceive a change to clean energy as a threat to current energy companies’ traditional business models.
Clean energy on sovereign lands
In America and Canada we have the treaty lands of sovereign indigenous nations. We’ve seen the government use this as an excuse to test nuclear bombs/dump toxic waste, tribes utilize this for casinos and now even to open marijuana resorts. In many places you can get gas and tobacco on the reservation much cheaper while avoiding taxes.
With a historic precedent of loving mother earth, why aren’t tribes jumping on this opportunity to bypass state regulations and help companies like Tesla get to consumers while undercutting the more-polluting energy companies? The Lubicon Lake Band in Alberta, Canada is snubbing their noses at dirty tarsands by building one of the nations largest solar plants. Can someone please tweet this post to Elon Musk? I think it might be time for an intertribal pow-wow with leaders of reservations and clean energy companies.
We have the potential to make history
As we speed along toward an eventual showdown between catastrophe and innovation, I am going to grab some popcorn take a deep breath and hedge my bets on a narrow victory for humanity against our own arrogance, ignorance, and greed. The option of despair, anger, fear just seems a bit less exciting, besides I’m too lazy to build a bunker 😉
Each of us has a role to play, each of us matter. As this issue builds momentum coming into an election year in the United States, candidates who champion it have potential to make history. We have much more to gain by celebrating this beautiful planet and the life that we have inherited than we do to continue trashing it and fighting with each other over petty things. What do you say we make something beautiful to leave for future generations with our limited time in this place?