Loren Petrich
Lebanon, Oregon, United States

Can we can develop renewable energy sources fast enough?

“I focus on renewable energy since energy is necessary to make everything else happen.”

Dear Future Generations,

As I write this, I ask: can my fellow citizens of Planet Earth can develop renewable energy sources fast enough? That is a vital part of reducing carbon emissions, because it avoids forcing an awkward choice between an industrial lifestyle and avoiding global warming and climate disruption. Wind energy and solar energy have become economically competitive with fossil fuels for electricity generation. However, electricity-storage technologies and renewable-energy manufacture of synthetic fields ("synfuels") both continue to be uneconomical compared to fossil fuels, though they are improving. The December 2015 Paris Conference is currently going on, and I will be very disappointed if it does not appreciate the potential of renewable energy.

I focus on renewable energy since energy is necessary to make everything else happen. All our resource extraction, all our farming, all our food processing, all our transport, all our communications, all our information technology, and all our entertainment systems need energy to run, and without industrial-grade sources, we'd be thrown back to a ca. 1800 sort of existence, at best. Our current ones are driven by burning of fossil fuels, and they release CO2 into our atmosphere, and that's a big problem with them. Another problem with fossil fuels is that we are consuming them something like a million times faster than they have been produced, and they will likely last only a few decades to a few centuries more. Renewable energy sources like wind turbines and solar panels are free from those deficiencies. Wind will last for as long as the Earth has an atmosphere and solar energy as long as the Sun is luminous.

Renewable energy will make other good things much easier, like desalination of seawater and mining of garbage dumps, seawater, and ordinary rock. These will help solve some resource problems. it will also make automated manufacturing, robotics, and artificial intelligence easier, since it will guarantee their being powered.

If you are able to read this letter, that very likely means that we have succeeded, and that your information hardware is powered by renewable sources like wind turbines or solar panels.