my ha'peth worth
I'd say I think we have backed ourselves into a corner regarding nuclear power generation. It's not “Green” in reality, due to the emissions and energy required to mine, transport and refine the oar. It has an horrendous legacy of waste for future generations and if accidents occur they are likely to have a major impact on the environment. But, easily available hydrocarbon resources are becoming more and more expensive to exploit as we use up the low hanging fruit that propelled us through the plastic & silicon boom of the later 20th century.
Add to that our growing populations and growing thirst for energy to power the dishwasher and all the other 'must have' items we are told (so easily persuaded) to buy and which don't last any way because they are built on the cheap to increase profit margins. So I am kind of agreeing with you on something I think. Our first washing machine (c. 1984) was built in Europe and was so easy to maintain (i.e. clean hoses, replace motor brushes, access any part you wanted too), we made it last over 25 years. (Washing was done in the bath / sink by hand up until that point). It was as if it had been put together with the mind of an engineer who understood longevity and maintenance. But equipment like that isn't going to make money for the makers nor are we encouraged to either get our hands dirty fixing things or even try to understand how things work.
I'm just trying to say that there does need to be a change in mind set all round, with the emphasis being on our impact on the environment (waste), whilst we wean ourselves off the goal that profit / money must be King. We have become unwitting slaves to Money and Energy Resource.
As a naïve kid in the sixties I remember watching one of those information films (when TV wasn't on 24/7), one of which described the efforts western engineers were putting into developing hydro-electric generation in Africa. It portrayed the west in a glowing light, monitoring the environmental impact, building new schools and villages for the displaced people (as a consequence of constructing damns) and generally bringing well-being and goodness to the people of a less well off developing nation. I bought into the story and believed we were right to export good governance, knowledge and development in this way. Now though I expect the benefits largely impacted on the richer echelons of African society.
There are two ways for a group of people to climb a mountain; they can trample over each other in a race to the top, or, the stronger ones can turn around and help the weaker ones up the mountain first. Which model best fits human behaviour do you think.
In our (western) race to the top of the mountain money is king. If you've got some you can afford; education, medical care, good housing and a 4x4 to take the kinds to nursery school in (you are a four-star consumer and get all the applause). If you don't have much, it must be your own fault and you struggle to afford even half decent food, clothes and warmth.
In the developing world money is also king; you can afford arms and ammunition and suppress / exploit those weaker around you. It brings political power and you can sell off your nations resources to the hungry west to line your pockets whilst the rest of your people starve in poverty.
I say we use our combined ingenuity to level the playing field, but that's pushing up against the weight of all those weaker people who were trampled on and against the power of the top-dogs who all ready made it to the top - not at all easy. We would also need to push against the weight of our own avarice and reliance on energy.
We seem to make our history by the millisecond these days, with all the channels of communication that abound. All the ephemeral, transient, trashy information we ping back and forth between us distorts / shortens our perspective, such that we become blind to the real problems before us and blind also to the lessons that history can teach us. We can however, watch ourselves plunge into the information vortex and be damned!
We can drill relatively microscopic holes through miles of this crust that we cling to, in order to sip out hidden pools of nectar (oil and gas). We can put so much trash into space we then moan when a piece takes out a lovely shiny expensive communication satellite.
SURELY then we can put our collective minds to making the whole world a better place for all, and, who knows, we might even find that we behave better towards one another, quite naturally apply limits to our population, rid ourselves of a superiority complex or two (religion) and bathe in the warm glow of sharing equally in the very best things that our planet earth has to offer.
BUT, that's not going to happen any time soon and I am probably guilty of letting my childhood naivety cloud my vision.
So we are backed into that corner I mentioned earlier, with nations like Japan, (for all it's ingenuity and technical prowess), having to rely on nuclear power because it lacks available alternatives in sufficient quantity.
Backed into a corner because we deal with dodgy dictators who happen to be sitting on huge reserves of oil and gas.
Backed into a corner because we will even make up excuses to fight illegal wars over such reserves and throw away so many young lives.
Nature, of course, has her own solution to all this and it's not nice. There's no point us hiding from the fact that the forces of nature have to be lived with, not fought against. Our present course will see us plunged into; global warfare, starvation, thirst, disease and, ultimately, a dramatic reduction in our numbers – natures way of saying STOP, that's enough now.
We have, I'm afraid, probably gone too far along this road and we will continue to exploit each other right up until we almost reach the dizzying, unobtainable, mountain summit that we so ardently believe is our goal.
The only hope for future generations is that they can somehow learn from our mistakes, because it doesn't look like we are man-enough to do it NOW for ourselves.
The party is over folks, it's time to clear out the empties and freshen the place up a bit.
For those of you inclined to accuse me of being just another nay-saying pessimist, I think it's actually a POSITIVE thing to believe that we could actually get ourselves out of this mess – we do have the where with all and the know-how to do it. And, ok, a near-utopia isn't the most the most exciting, adrenaline-pumping, prospect, but maybe we could give up on the hunter-gathering stuff now and nurture a little more instead.