By Shawn Oueinsteen
Attaining a clean energy future should not be a nightmare. As a writer doing research for my climate novel, I’ve read experts encouraging hard sacrifices. Inside our own homes, we should control our thermostats so we sweat in the summer and shiver in winter. We should fear entering traffic on highways, driving squashable, tiny cars that have poor acceleration. And we should all live in cramped inner-city apartments, so we share energy needs and get around with bicycles, busses, and shoe-leather.
No! No! No! That is not my dream for a clean-energy future. Novelists turn dreams into words, and my dream is a sweet, pleasant dream, not a nightmare. My dream has me living in the suburbs in a large house in which I have plenty of air to breathe, and that air is a temperature I find comfortable. My dream includes powerful SUVs, although personally I prefer a large sedan that goes from zero to sixty faster than the sleekest sports car on the planet. And when I ride a bicycle, it will be on mountain trails, not dodging rush-hour traffic.
Very few people ever dreamed that the U.S. Postal Service would refrain from accepting job applicant resumes sent by surface mail because they are much slower and less reliable than email. That is a reality today. Remember big, clunky television and computer monitors? Who dreamed of the flat-panel displays everyone uses now. And when all phones were attached to walls and were from AT&T, did even Steve Jobs dream of the mobile devices we keep in our pockets? Did anyone dream how quickly all this would happen?
To achieve my dream for a clean-energy future, and do it in time to prevent a climate crisis, we need small, disruptive, start-up companies, with a lot of innovation. We need to dream of the next 1983 Microsoft, the next 1993 Cisco, and the next 2004 Apple. We need our capitalist, free-market economy to make the next generation of corporations convert the world to sustainable energy, and do it quickly.
In my dream, it is happening today, in 2019. Tesla is building huge battery factories, so the clean energy of the sun and the wind can be stored for when the sun is not shining and the winds are not blowing. Kia, Volkswagen, Volvo, BMW, and others are following Tesla’s lead and are building powerful SUVs and even large trucks that are fully electric. A Chinese billionaire has teamed with a Japanese billionaire to build high-voltage direct-current electrical grid transmission systems that transmit energy across vast distances with very little loss. And the next generation of the Prius will have photoelectric paint.
But we need to do much, much more to achieve my dream. We once broke up AT&T into baby bells to prevent a monopoly from stifling innovative small businesses. We need similar dreams today. Leadersin the energy sector need to persuade Government to regulate huge corporations to keep them from strangling the disruptive start-ups. Similarly, these leaders need to discourage subsidies for old technology and encourage subsidies for innovation. And, most importantly, we need these leaders to dream new dreams for a clean-energy future.
I am writing a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. I look forward to sharing it with others in our Leaders in Energy community when it is completed. In the meantime, I would welcome your assistance to help me to build momentum for my novel. As publishers often look at an author’s social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers, it would really help me if you can friend me on channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. comment on what I post. I also post in the Leaders in Energy’s online forum on LinkedIn (Leaders in Energy Research, Communications, Policies & Analysis group). Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.