What would happen if we got on the wagon and stopped burning fossil fuels?
The share prices of the energy and oil companies are based on the amount of coal, gas and oil that they have the rights to extract. Let’s assume for a minute that we go ahead and leave most of those reserves in the ground.
I’m not meaning that tomorrow we stop burning fuels, leading to utter disaster, I’m talking about a carefully managed move to not burning the fossil fuels. I’m doing this as a thought experiment. Let’s see where it goes.
There would be room for some fossil fuels to be used and I’d assume these would be used for the essentials – although I’m not sure how we would prioritise them. Health feels like it’s high up the list. As does food – but what alternatives are there for food?
If we were forced into reducing our reliance on carbon fuels, then we would necessarily need to come up with alternatives, to grow our food and conduct our day-to-day lives.
We’d probably go about by first looking at what we could reduce in terms of our usage – efficiencies or alternative ways of doing things. Then we’d look at how to find alternatives for those needs that remain.
To reduce our usage we could look at highly productive natural farming methods, such as managing cattle grazing habits to preserve the pasture (which actually captures carbon rather than emits it). We could make the most of the telecommunication revolution, which would allow us to travel less, both home and abroad. We could spend more time in our communities socialising with our neighbours rather than alone watching television. We could travel by foot and by bicycle, increasing our fitness.
There are ways we could reduce our usage further, which could start to feel like sacrifice, such as reduced flying.
Then there are the things we could do to find alternatives. That means renewables or potentially nuclear for electricity, electric cars, low energy light bulbs (LEDs are good – they come on straight away and are bright).
What is important to know is how much of a change would be needed, at an individual level or wider than that, for us to avoid the worst effects of climate change. What would that look like to you and me. That is something I will explore and write about in the future.
One thing is certain…
Our lives would be completely different.
Worth the risk?
Thoughts below as always.
I’m glad to see you mention nuclear for the first time. Obviously I have a vested interest but it is a technology that is both embraced and abhorred depending on which environmentalist you are talking to. I believe that the expansion of nuclear generation is a viable and cost effective way to massively reduce our carbon emissions. I’m not after a debate but would be interested in others opinions.
I’m in the “embraced” camp – sure, nuclear has its problems, but they are not so immediate as fossil fuels