For most people, “evolution” often means forward progress. We imagine natural selection as a gradual progression from amoebas to humans. Most people also look at technology the same way. But not all people defined progress the same, as noted by the results of the COP 21 Summit where some of the solutions I would consider: regressive evolution and is a lot like socialism.
A perfect example of regressive technology evolution can be found in Germany. After WWII, both Germany and Japan had to completely rebuild their infrastructures and economies. They both were able to start from scratch with the latest technology available at that time and both became manufacturing giants. That required a lot of energy and nuclear was the choice back in the 60’s.
Unfortunately Germany has politically decided not to continue with nuclear energy based on social concerns, not technical concerns. With the help of the Green Party, Germany has decided to provide 100% of their electrical grid with energy from wind and solar. After shutting down half of their nuclear power plants (still had 20-40 years of usage) their industry is really feeling the pain of higher prices for electricity and availability. Germany has had to regress to coal to makeup for the lost electricity. Germany has pledge to continue the elimination of nuclear and provide energy exclusively with renewable to meet their COP 21 pledge. Solar is a partial solution but those wind towers have got to go. Germany is on the wrong energy path that has been slowly exposed over the last 10 years.
After Fukushima in 2011, Japan has felt the economic pain of shutting down their 55 nuclear power plants for the last four years and replacing the energy with CO2 producing coal and NG energy as a quick stop gap. Japan had a social and technical reason for doing this and has since started to bring those nuclear power plants back online after making some safety adjustment for extreme earthquakes and tsunamis. Japan is going to double down on nuclear power to meet their pledge of GHG reduction to the COP 21 Summit.
Coal is yesterday’s energy source, just like whale oil before that and wood before that. Even with nanotechnology usage to clean the coal’s pollution from the atmosphere, there is still a problem of where to store the captured CO2 and other toxins. Underground is a logical solution like nuclear waste, however, it will require million times more space to store. That alone will probably increase the chances of polluting the terrestrial lands and water. Through next generation nuclear energy and solar nanotechnology, there is no reason that we have to worry about long term storage of waste by-products.
COP 21 did not focus on nuclear technology either in energy or nanoscale clean product solutions, like purification, filtration or energy harvest membranes (solar cells). Instead, COP 21 focused on how to distribute responsibility of cost to save the planet and not a concerted technology effort like the Manhattan Project of the 1940’s or the Apollo Moon Project of the 1960’s. Without that commitment, I have to wonder how critical climate change really is to these world leaders. There is a lot of talk and we all know talk is cheap but there is very little action to really solve the alleged problems with climate change.
The action from the COP 21 foundation is urging governments to impose a carbon levy on all fossil fuel extraction and mining, with the proceeds going to help pay poorer countries for adapting to climate change control and meeting the costs of its impact. How in the world will the millions of real people still burning wood for cooking going to benefit from this tax? That’s right – they won’t because of corrupt governments.