Have you lived through an atomic bomb?
A reasonable answer to this question is “No” unless you were living in Nagasaki or Hiroshima in August 1945.
What if I told you that the current rate of increase of global temperature due to carbon emissions is the equivalent of exploding four atomic bombs every second?
John Tyndall, an Irish scientist, was the first to measure the ability of gases like CO2, water vapour and ozone to absorb and radiate heat. He found that the other gases which make up our atmosphere (oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen) absorb or trap almost no heat at all.
The greenhouse effect is something which has become ubiquitous in modern life. It is so easy to become apathetic to something we cannot yet see and so easy to feel helpless about something which feels so out of our control. In many ways, individuals are helpless. The wheels of industry turn, and coal and gas power plants continue to provide the backbone to our global energy supply.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report states, we have a mere twelve years to bring the earth back from the brink of catastrophic climate change. In the words of John Tyndall;
“It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not to our taste.”
Inaction has been the hallmark of the political and corporate response to climate change since the 1980s. Governments around the world continue to subsidise and legislate in favour of conventional generation, while ignoring the evidence that we are fast approaching the point of no return.
But we have not yet reached the point of no return. We have the chance to change our fate and to deliver a world which meets all peoples’ energy needs. To protect the habitats of 67% of the earth’s species which now face extinction.
As any engineer will tell you, nothing focuses the mind quite like a fast-approaching deadline.
To use this twelve-year deadline as the catalyst for reaching 100% renewable energy would be testament to humankind’s ability to overcome adversity. The vehicle which will deliver this elegant solution is a fully interconnected, continental grid. As American entrepreneur, Jim Rohn said;
“The wind blows on us all, but it’s how you set your sail that makes the difference.”
The wind is blowing somewhere, and the sun is shining somewhere else.
We have the solution, we just need to build it.
This blog is written by Maria O’Neill from the SuperNode team and edited by Ellen Le Bas. SuperNode is part of the 2018 UCD Sustainability Launchpad led by UpThink in association with the UCD Energy Institute and sponsored by our Industry Partners Mainstream Renewable Power. If you have any questions about the Launchpad programme email firstname.lastname@example.org.