Some thoughts on climate change and energy structure
Note: this is adapted from my answers to a coursework of a MOOC.
Can we get self sufficient in renewable energy? Perhaps theoretically yes; but practically impossible, at least within the next 50 years. There are mainly two obstacles: technology and international politics.
The latest technologies cannot meet the power demand 100%. Even the highest efficiency of solar panels cannot satisfy the total energy consumption of a massive country, suppose all land in that country is covered by solar panels. And don’t forget, the energy consumption in the manufacturing process of solar panels, wind turbines etc. is even more than the energy they will produce in their lifespan. As a matter of fact, human has developed all potentials for renewable energy according to our latest physics, mathematics and chemistry. If we want to have a renewable energy that really fully fills the international energy demand, the future plan might lie in the fundamental research in physics, mathematics etc. But that’s another topic.
International politics is another block, which is even more horrible than technical stagnation. Not all countries have the natural condition to produce enough renewable energy, so they have to import renewable energy from other countries, or set up their energy farm in the ones having enough natural resources. However, when energy transmission meets with national interests and cultural conflicts, there will be trade wars in energy. For instance, according to Economists, we can supply all energy with wind if we construct wind forms on the lands and seashores near the Arctic and Antarctic. But the war between Russia and Ukraine has showed us how geopolitical upheaves can cut off energy and food supply.
To let people enjoy nature just in or near cities, we have to build cities in a natural manner; to build the cities in a natural manner, we have to make them less massive and less crowded. If we concentrate millions of people in a city like London, Paris, New York and Tokyo, we have to struggle to find spare room for natural decorations or natural spots. It is a topic of urban planning; if we have numerous middle or small cities nationwide, it will be easier to make them covered in green.
Most of the “unsafety” and “traumas” are caused by media, to be honest. From media, we know alarmists like Greta Thunberg who claim they will burn your cars and factories if you don’t give up eating meat and using gasoline. If you are worried about your employment and living costs due to the drastic climate policies, they will accuse you of being evil. On the other side, we also have radical conservatives who want to reopen all the coal mines and accuse you of being a bigot if you worry about climate.
Perhaps the best way to relief mental stress is to regulate media, especially social networks and privately-owned media such as those in the US. We need scientists and policy makers to tell us objectively on official media: we must shift our energy structure, but it doesn’t make us evil if we have to care about energy bills and employment; people have more priorities than climate change.