Up and out when when others were mostly asleep, Koko and I encountered the pure blackness of a night where the moon had not yet risen and the stars were extinguished by a thick blanket of fleece.
Morning arrived similarly subdued, with a streak of clear light sandwiched between gray layers in the east and the quilting that covered the sky tinted pale orange. In the distance, lavender clouds were crawling all over Waialeale and it was hard to predict just what the day might bring.
It’s also hard to predict what the future might bring for humankind. While many folks seem to be either in denial about the challenges we face, others think science, engineering and technology will save the day. In short, we’ll be able to invent our way out of our woes, especially in the area of energy.
This idea was laid to rest in a recent article in The New Yorker on inventor Saul Griffith, who estimated that the human race currently consumes energy at an average rate of about 16 trillion watts. To cap greenhouse gas at a level that would result in a global temperature increase of only two degrees Celsius would require a dramatic shift to renewable and non-carbon based sources.
And doing that, Griffith said, would require building the equivalent of all the following: a hundred square metres of new solar cells, fifty square metres of new solar-thermal reflectors and on Olympic swimming pool’s volume of genetically engineered algae (for biofuels) every second for the next twenty-five years; one three-hundred-foot diameter wind turbine every five minutes; one hundred-megawatt geothermal-powered steam turbine every eight hours and one three-gigawatt nuclear power plant every week.
“Right now, everyone sees climate change as a problem in the domain of scientists and engineers,” Griffith told me. “But it’s not enough to say that we need some nerds to invent a new energy source and some other nerds to figure out a carbon-sequestration technology — and you should be skeptical about either of those things actually happening. There are a lot of ideas out there, but nothing nearly as radical as green-tech hype.
Guess that's why we're just sticking with oil and coal and pretending it'll all be OK.
That same issue had another article, on Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1831 journey to America, that included an excerpt from his writings about the way in which America was acquiring Indian lands. It jumped out at me, because it reflected the same approach America used in taking the Hawaiian Kingdom:
…he notes that America is expert at talking a noble language while committing ignoble deeds. The extermination of the Indians has been done “tranquilly, legally, philanthropically, without spilling blood, without violating a single one of the great principles of morality in the eyes of the world.”
On a related topic, Dawson, a frequent, thoughtful presence in the comments section of KauaiEclectic, forwarded a link to this article with the comment:
No wonder the "we rule the world, get over it" commentators on your blog are sounding so strident!
And changing the subject entirely, a survey shows that many married women in America would rather sleep, watch a movie, read or do just about anything rather than have sex with their husbands.
Just a few things to think about this quiet morning.