Moving Away from Fossil Fuel Consumption Will Require Innovative Thinking and Diligent Changes in Habit

There are a couple of sayings that are often used together: talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. Each separately and both together can convey the idea that it is easier to talk about something but harder to actually do it.

Let’s be clear, although all species seem able to communicate among themselves, only humans can originate ideas and take action that extends far beyond primal instincts. The human brain is unquestionably responsible for our unusual mental abilities. Yet, in conflict with this special talent is taking the necessary action to change long, ingrained habits.

Our obsession with technology and its need to provide for “instantaneous everything” is one such habit that is worsening with technological advances. Fossil fuel consumption is another such habit.

I discovered this rather interesting (at least to me) paper written in 2007 by the Norwegian Gunnar Ettestøl. His opening paragraphs immediately got my attention:

“The Earth used more than 500 million years to build its layers of fossil energy. Now, the humans of the Earth may consume most of the remaining fossil energy resources in 500 years, with catastrophic climate changes as a result. And the climate changes can have serious impacts on the world’s economy and large groups of people within decades.

Why do we do so little to change our habits and take initiatives against the increasing global warming? Everything seems to show that we are forced to use our entire collective knowledge to carry out drastic actions against the climate changes.”

He continues with his views on the most important initiatives:

  1. Comprehensive forestry programmes in tropical and subtropical dry land and deserts for CO2-uptake.
  2. Building of solar power plants in large scale to replace fossil energy.

You could say, after reading his paper, that he, too, is obsessed with technology. The difference is his taking action in its application to change long-established habits and dependencies. The technology in his paper has evolved since 2007 and it might be time to raise the intensity of our effort to determine or dispel the validity of his assumptions. Our planet has nothing more to lose but plenty more to gain.

Solar Energy: The Climate Threat’s Counterforce

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