Η τεχνολογία αναχαίτισης της κλιματικής αλλαγής

Μεταφέρω επιστολή αναγνώστη με τίτλο “Adapting to climate change” που δημοσιεύτηκε στην Εκόνομιστ της 24 Νοεμβρίου 2022.Το επιχείρημα είναι πειστικό – κεϋνσιανό, θα το έλεγε μεταφορικώς κάποιος που θα θυμόταν τις ‘Οικονομικές δυνατότητες για τα εγγόνια μας’ (1930).

“You characterised the options for climate mitigation as being either new energy technologies (carbon capture, hydrogen, negative emissions and so on) or geoengineering (‘Goodbye 1.5°C’, November 5th). This is wrong, damaging and costly. It is wrong because between voluntary behaviour change and new energy-infrastructure technologies lies a whole spectrum of options to live well using today’s technologies differently. For example, since the early 1990s average car weights have risen to more than 12 times the weight of the people in them, global flights have quadrupled, mainly for leisure, and new commercial buildings have been knocked down and replaced on average in less than 50 years. Efficiency is about systems and equipment, not motors. We could have lives very similar to today’s, with half the energy input, all of it electric, by changing specific equipment (such as cars and boilers) without requiring any noticeable asceticism.

It is damaging, because politicians and the leaders of high-emitting companies will take every excuse to avoid action today, if they are given any hope of easier action later. Apart from the year of the pandemic, global emissions have risen every year since we agreed to reduce them. This has been excused every year by the promise that new technologies will arrive to make the solution easier. They haven’t and we cannot afford any further inaction.

It is costly because the price of unmitigated climate change is far greater than yet appreciated. The starvation of hundreds of millions of people in the second half of this century will lead to a world war of incalculable suffering. But the techno-fantasy of solving climate change with new and invisible energy technologies removes the incentive to innovate in the vast space of opportunity in which more benefit is delivered from less resources. The Tesla of material recycling, the Amazon of resource efficiency, the IKEA of retrofit, the Starbucks of tele-present meals, all are waiting to be born, once we prick the false belief that magic technologies will take away the problem.”

Julian Allwood
Professor of engineering and the environment
University of Cambridge

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