Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:43 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 20:43 | SYDNEY

Carbon is the problem, not electricity


Andrew Carr


1 June 2011 12:14

Stephen Grenville made an important point in his post, though it helps prove Sam's argument:

the emphasis should be on carbon: electricity can be produced by less carbon-intensive means (gas instead of brown coal), so the focus needs to be on carbon rather than, say, on energy in general.

This goes to another rhetorical problem of the environmental movement. It demonises the purpose for which carbon is produced (electricity & power) as well as the harmful by-product. Yet electricity is the lifeblood of civillisation. Every time humanity developed new ways of creating power (fire, harnassing animals, steam engines and now electricity), human civillisation took a strong step forward.

If we want to help billions rise from poverty, or even the poor in the developed world lead comfortable lives (not to mention the huge social and economic benefits of the digital revolution underway), then intensive power use is a necessary element.

All too often the environmental movement seems to demonise electricity and power itself, and in turn they isolate much of the population. What else is the Earth Hour campaign but a wish to turn our back on some of our greatest technological achievements in symbolic rejection? Critics also delight in mocking the anti-power approach, portraying global warming concerns as part of a hippyish desire to return to 'mother nature', or noting the high energy use (such as flights and cars) of environmental activists.

Addressing climate change should not be a negative austerity or Transcendentalist movement, but instead a positive spur to create efficient and infinitely renewable sources of power so that we can safely consume as much power as we could possibly desire, and know that our kids and grand-kids can use even more than us, in pursuit of a better world.

Photo by Flickr user ~inky.