“The Tech doesn’t work” is a common mantra of the climate change skeptics. The argument is that renewable technology can’t solve all of our energy needs. It follows, they say, that we have no easy solutions, so we should continue to burn more oil and resist any efforts of governments to encourage change.
The logical fallacy is, of course, that climate change isn’t going to wait for us. They are, for all intents and purposes, sticking their head in the oil sands.
It is also untrue. To say that the tech doesn’t work denies progress already made not to mention the potential progress that lies ahead.
There have been ongoing improvements in renewable tech. From better solar panel performance to tidal generation to run-of-the-river hydro, the shift to a low-carbon economy has already encouraged innovation.
A Battery Example
Storage of energy is a problem. The electricity won’t flow if the wind stops blowing. Solar cells don’t work well at night. It is necessary, of course, to store power for when it is needed.
Oil has made it too easy to throw a switch or turn a key to get instant power. With sources such as wind and solar, we have to look to batteries.
Battery tech has come a long way in the last decade or so. To be sure, the recent generation of Li battery power tools offer vast improvements over the old NiCad tools. Opponents of change will rapidly point out the environmental risks of lithium extraction. And with good reason. Water use is tremendous and the possibility releasing other more toxic metals in to the environment exists.
Enter thermal energy grid storage. The idea is, in short, to use excess electricity, when available to super heat silicon. Silicon glows white-hot when molten. Later, when the supply falls, photovoltaics can be used to capture that white-hot energy and put it on the grid. Silicon is non-toxic, easy to extract, and inexpensive.
Why This Matters
The thermal energy grid store is just a small example what is possible.
People have often predicted the end of technology. IBM’s Thomas Watson predicted a world market for five computers. The founder of DEC, Ken Olsen, famously predicted that nobody would ever want a computer in their home. Climate change detractors are no different.
We must not be distracted by the idea that the tech doesn’t work. Rest assured, we are clever and innovative problem-solvers.
We need to encourage the use of clean technologies. Whether that is through fee-and-dividend programs to discourage carbon use or through incentives for EVs, solar, and other renewable systems. We should reduce the costs for early adopters as they are the ones who will push the development of better tech.
Finally, we need to encourage bright people to get involved. I was inspired to write this post after seeing this article after a young man in our riding shared it on his Facebook page. His comment suggested that this is the kind of work he’d like to pursue. We need to build an economy where he will have the opportunity to do so.
This piece, entirely the opinion of the author, is the first in a series of climate denial myths.