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The next revolution: RE<C

June 24, 2008

I’m not sure whether the entirety of The Economist’s special report is available online – you might have to be a subscriber but give it a try anyway.  Pretty sure the abstract is available to everyone.

The sub-articles are The energy alternatives, Wind power, Carbon storage, Solar energy, Geothermal generation, Bespoke biofuels, Tomorrow’s cars, Nuclear’s return, Energy’s future, and an audio interview with Geoffry Carr, science editor of The Economist.

I recommend these articles for one reason: human nature sucks.  The whole planet can be in danger, with a bleak future for unborn generations, and you’ll only get a minority of people to do so much as recycle an aluminum can.  Altruism is simply not a reliable way to save the world.  But make clean energy one cent cheaper than coal, and the world will practically save itself.

I wish I could in good conscience have a better opinion of humanity, but the evidence is against it.  That is the concept of Renewable Energy cheaper than coal, or RE<C.  And why is a conservative magazine like The Economist reporting on this approach?  Simple:

EVERYONE loves a booming market, and most booms happen on the back of technological change. The world’s venture capitalists, having fed on the computing boom of the 1980s, the internet boom of the 1990s and the biotech and nanotech boomlets of the early 2000s, are now looking around for the next one. They think they have found it: energy.

Think the information technology economy is big?  It’s measured in mere hundreds of billions of dollars.  The energy market is measured in trillions.  So while the 21st century certainly has the potential to royally screw things up for future generations of humanity (to say nothing of fish) it also has the potential to blow the lid off poverty, pollution, and isolation and usher in the 22nd century in shades of cool green.  Take that any way you want.


  • I initially used the expression (less than) instead of a < symbol because Expression Engine seems to have problems rendering the < symbol next to other characters. It keeps trying to turn it into HTML code despite the pre or the code tags I wrapped around them

  • But then ***Dave suggested using HTML entity code & lt ; and it rendered correctly.
  1. Ted
    June 24, 2008 at 21:46 | #1

    I took some business classes in Change Management because I didn’t like the rate of change around me.

    Change makes me dizzy. Whenever I discussed the dangers of unchecked change people would say, “Oh, you f*cking coward. Stop sniveling and nut up. Change is good for you and only mentally deficient and lazy losers are crybabies about change. Globalism, WTO, entrepreneurship, blah, blah, blah. Ayn Rand. The Fountainhead. Blah.”

    But I’m fundamentally a bitter person that nurses a grudge.

    And for years I’ve been thinking, “Oh, really. One o’ these days, change is going to come knocking on your door—and I’m gonna get a lawn chair, a large cup of iced tea, and enjoy the drama. You don’t mind if I just watch, do you?”

    …it also has the potential to blow the lid off poverty, pollution, and isolation and usher in the 22nd century in shades of cool green.

    Somewhere on the internets I read a short essay by a guy that just figured what naive meant.

  2. June 24, 2008 at 21:56 | #2

    Well it’s funny thing about potential; it can be useful, it can be explosive, and the distinction does not always constitute a difference.  Put a charged lithium battery in your lap and short it out, and you’ll learn a painful lesson in potential.

    I don’t like change any more than you do but I suspect this is our only shot at a good outcome.  No way to sit it out.

  3. June 24, 2008 at 23:37 | #3

    Did you try using the HTML entity (ampersand-lt-semicolon)? (<)?

    I agree, btw.  As a demonstration, the sudden, remarkable shift in US buying habits based on gasoline’s big price uptick.

  4. June 25, 2008 at 05:20 | #4

    I still recall when I suggested on my blog that we return to the 55mph speed limit. A commenter suggested that she would drive 65 and I could drive 45 and we’d have our bit covered.

    People do not like to give up the slightest bit of fun that they consider their natural right.

    I’ll comment again after I read the article.

  5. June 25, 2008 at 07:07 | #5

    Thanks ***Dave!  (slaps forehead)

    Looking forward to your comments, Gerry.

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