Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Graciosa Aims to be World’s First Carbon-Free Island by 2012

A step in the right direction:

The tiny island of Graciosa off the coast of Portugal is undergoing a silent revolution. A German company is trying to make the 4,500-strong community energy self-sufficient and independent.

Berlin-based “Younicos” wants to harness and store the power generated by the wind and the sun on a scale large enough to supply the entire island.

Company founder, Clemens Triebel describes his vision:

“We would have a place in the world where already today, the energy supply with renewables would be ensured one hundred percent, without the people living there having to suffer from poorer quality or other disadvantages compared to other industrialized countries.”

The bottom line about Gracioca’s move towards a complete reliance on renewable energy is this:  we have the capacity to do it, even today.  If communities and nations around the globe merely made the effort and directed sufficient resources to the cause, there is no reason to believe we could not attain total energy self-sufficiency.  The only thing which prevents us from realizing that goal is a simple lack of motivation; instead of utilizing our intellectual and material wealth for creative purposes with benefits for all, we prefer to squander our wealth on weapons and war.

The move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources must be considered both desirable and inevitable.  With limited fossil fuel supplies, it should be implicitly recognized that, sooner or later, we will have to make a transition towards sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.  Although the evidence for human-caused climate change is indisputable – and any scientist who is actually qualified to study such things has agreed on this for decades – we should be interested in a switch to renewable energy for purely practical reasons.

Paradoxically, I have more than once been called a Luddite for expressing such a desire to evolve beyond our dependence on fossil fuels.  In reality, those who cling to the foul, inefficient, and dangerously destructive old paradigm of fossil fuel consumption are the true technophobes, as they cling to the antiquated ways of familiarity rather than embracing the inevitable wave of the future.  Because it truly is inevitable, folks.  So why prolong the switch to green energy any longer than we have to?

Those who deny the reality of climate change tend to be scientifically challenged.  Such people warmly embrace the fruits of scientific endeavors when it suits them to do so, but brashly reject the findings of science when it threatens to impinge on their way of life.  Science has granted us all the wonders and comforts of the modern world, from medicines and vaccines to iPads and the Internet.  While the transition period to renewable energy has the potential to be a somewhat turbulent time, the consequences of sticking with fossil fuels promise to be even more volatile, without the light at the end of the tunnel guaranteed by a move to green energy.

So rather than wasting our vast material and – most importantly – intellectual resources on the means of death and destruction – as we have done for virtually all of human history – it is time for us to devote ourselves and our riches to a more constructive and fulfilling goal.  Realizing the abundance of energy available to us from wind, solar, geothermal and tidal sources will provide improve life for everyone, and save the very earth we inhabit in the process.

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