Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It all comes down to energy

As I look across the internet, there is significant news about "The Day We Fight Back". This is the day we fight back against massive, unrestrained surveillance by the US and UK governments to name a few, against the rest of us. This is no small movement, this is worldwide, and from what I can see, it's going to be big.

The surveillance state really starts with energy, where we get it and who gets to use it. We could have cut back on carbon years ago, but the carbon energy industry has centuries of entrenchment in our culture, in our politics and in our way of getting around. But despite our indulgence in carbon for energy, we need to take a long hard look at what that has cost us.

The surveillance state arises from a war on terrorism. The war on terrorism arises from our dependence on oil. To keep things hot in the middle east, we are playing both sides, funding the Arabs and funding the Israelis. We have helped to fuel the debate by giving one side no reason whatsoever to want or desire peace in the region - that's Israel. Take away their funding and their business and suddenly, a two state solution seems practical with peace as a bonus.

Add global warming, the end of snow, rising tide lines, and throw in really severe weather worldwide, hey, you'd think that would be enough, right? Not even close. The people are thinking about changing, but the governments are a lot slower about it.

We could have avoided most of the mess had we picked the right nuclear energy solution. We could have used molten salt reactors instead of the light water reactors. The molten salt reactor works well with uranium and thorium. The MSR leaves behind far less waste than the light water highly pressurized water vessels we're using now.

We could go solar, worldwide. The sun drops 1000TW of power on our planet every day. We only need to harness a small fraction of that to power our world. Dr. Daniel Nocera has come up with some nifty materials for splitting water in sunlight. This can be a power source for everyone.

Wind and hydro power are interesting, but they don't scale like nuclear and solar. We have options. We can look to the sources of energy before we consider violence, mass surveillance and the like. So while people are fighting back, let's hope they get the big picture. It's all about the energy. Start there.
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