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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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How much wasted money?

28 May 2024

We all know that the planet is under threat from climate change.

Various factions will always argue about the primary cause of that climate change, whether it's man-made or part of some larger cyclic change that was going to see temperatures rise anyway. Regardless of what you believe, the reality is that things are warming up and that's causing significant issues with extreme weather events and changing zones of habitability.

The big question is "how do we mitigate these changes?"

The general concensus is that reducing our carbon emissions is about all we can realisticaly do. Pie in the sky visions of reflective barriers orbiting the earth are just fantasy and even if we could do this, ultimately the cure could be worse than the disease.

So, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, huge sums of money are being spent on technologies that are supposed to wean us off fossil fuels -- but most of that is money being thrown down the toilet.

Plans to transition the world to hydrogen as a fuel, for example.

I've already written at length about the folly of using hydrogen as a fuel so I won't repeat myself today (just check out the link to a piece I wrote back in 2008 if you need a refresher).

Given the amount of hype we've read in the media with countless stories promising that soon our aircraft and cars will be fueled by clean, plentiful, efficient hydrogen -- it is clear that most journalists slept through their science classes at school.

It was incredibly refreshing therefore, to see that DW, the German broadcaster, produced a video that finally tells the truth about the myth of hydrogen. I invite you to watch this short video and compare it to the piece I wrote over 16 years ago.

Yes folks, you read it here first!

One of the most significant fossil fuel polluters is the aviation industry. Every year, airliners spew copious amounts of carbon and water-vapour into the atmosphere at altitudes where they can do even more damage than at ground-level. Consequently there has been a huge thrust to shift to biofuels as a way of making air-travel carbon-neutral.

Well it's bad news there as well, with a recent report indicating that totally unrealistic expectations have been set for this option.

Yes, as I said, we're flushing copious amounts of money down the drain by exploring dead ends that seem to exist only so that those pushing them can claim to be "green" -- all the while continuing to contribute to the warming that affects us all.

The reality is that our salvation may actually lie in making changes that simply reduce our energy consumption. Fly less, build more energy-efficient homes, focus on renewable energy sources.

I think the pandemic proved that we can continue to operate our society without the need for huge levels of commuting and international travel. The internet itself has significantly reduced the need for travel and in-person appearances -- the very things that contribute so significantly to our total carbon footprint.

It doesn't look as if there is going to be any carbon-zero form of air travel in the forseeable future so it makes sense to restructure things so as to avoid the need. Yes, the internet itself consumes huge amounts of energy but this can be clean, green electrical energy from renewables such as solar, wind and hydro. None of those energy sources can power an airliner.

With all this in mind, I suspect that our world will be quite different in as little as 20 years' time. We'll be far more inclined to use augmented reality than we will be to commute or fly to distance shores for business. Air travel will become far less common and far more expensive, as we continue to see the huge significance that climate change has on our weather and the costs associated with that (such as disaster relief).

Buckle-up folks, it's going to be a bumpy ride with plenty of turbulence!

Carpe Diem folks!

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