Back in 2014, I wrote in a blog about climate change, that I foresaw no meaningful efforts to tackle the looming disaster. Nothing much has changed and despite the obvious deterioration of the world’s climate, we have the recent news of pit mining of coal returning to the UK and Donald Trump’s announcement of the U.S formally withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on Climate action.
Clearly we will make no progress in time to avert irreversible climate change with our current approach. The core of the problem is the cost of the transition to renewables has only marginal benefits and the bottom line for governments and voters is the effect on the hip pocket. The cessation of carbon based fuels will probably occur, at the present rate of uptake of renewable alternatives, at the turn of the century if we are lucky.
As the term ‘climate emergency’ begins to be discussed, we need to react with equal intensity. So I would suggest that there is a more radical solution.
In May 1961, the American President, John Kennedy, addressed the Congress in a speech titled ‘Special message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs’.
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”
The American public enthusiastically responded to this challenge and on the 20th of July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon. An astonishing effort by a vast team to achieve this goal. JFK, sadly, never saw this accomplishment that he instigated.
Now is the time for the same leadership from the U.S or the UN, to commit to the development of Fusion energy for open commercial use by 2030. Efforts are currently underway in centres across the globe to harness Fusion energy (the same process that powers our sun) but there is no uniting leadership and insufficient funding. Fundamentally in a Fusion reaction, Hydrogen is converted to Helium with the release of vast amounts of energy. Just grams of fuel could power a city. A project of this scale would have no precedent.
The benefits would be clean abundant energy that would ‘crash‘ the price of energy to a fraction of the existing price. This quantum reduction in energy cost would revolutionise industry, opening up the development of new alloys and ceramics and underpinning the Hydrogen industry. Space exploration would be turbocharged by the potential of vastly higher velocity motors, it’s easy to get breathless talking about the potential of Fusion energy!
The fossil fuel industry would be redundant overnight. The wind turbines could come down and be recycled, and a new chapter for humanity would begin.
So, with minor adaption and much plagiarism, it would be transformational, if one day soon, we heard a global leader speak these words-
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of developing Fusion energy to serve our commercial needs. No single project, will be more impressive to mankind, or more important to long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish”