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Michael norton – “how are we to make the 90 %?”
Michael, I do not know. I think that for now, humanity will have to cut back on its energy usage. That is hard, because much of the world’s population uses far less energy than the nations that industrialised early.
A few points:
- The growth rate of solar photovoltaic generation capacity is phenomenal; it increased by a factor of over 900 from 2005 to 2018. But that shouldn’t be such a surprise because photovoltaics are semiconductors, and we’re in a semiconductor revolution. Photovoltaics have no moving parts and are the cheapest source of electricity, and the price is falling rapidly. Efficiency is still quite low, just over 20%, but a new photovoltaic technology made of perovskites could slash the price to one tenth while boosting efficiency to over 30%:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWU89g7sj7s – (14 minutes)
- There are probably far better ways to do nuclear power, far safer, producing less than a twentieth as much waste, of a type that would decay to background levels in just 300 years rather than tens of thousands of years. However, very few such reactors have been prototyped, and none since 1970, so this would take decades to develop.
- “Come on Clark…” – But how humanity should best address this predicament is up to everyone, not just me.
Typically, representative democracy consists of people who chose a career of competing for power, so of course this system selects mostly competitive people. They stand little chance unless they join a major political party, and the parties oppose each other ideologically, so only two types of viewpoint are represented, only ideas acceptable within the party ideology are put forward, and at least half of these ideas go to waste, rejected by whichever side wins. The parties exist for decades, and the representative serve for most of their working lives, so both become targets for lobbying by vested interests. This is the system that has failed to address the problems for decades.
This is why Extinction Rebellion are calling for Citizens’ Assemblies practising Deliberative Democracy. A Citizens’ Assembly is a body of people chosen at random, like jury service, to form a democratic body. This system is called “sortition”; it was the earliest form of democracy recorded in history, that of ancient Greece. It ensures that all types of people are represented, not just those who seek power. The Assembly is informed by experts in the relevant fields, and they deliberate upon solutions rather than competing on party ideology. Members are rotated and replaced by new members also chosen at random, to prevent the Assembly being captured by vested interests.
This system has been tried and has proven remarkably successful. But the traditional parties won’t cede their power willingly, so we the people have to take action. If our current system is truly a democracy, then we have the right to do so. And if it is not, then it is imperative that we do so.