The latest documentary by Michael Moore “Planet of the Humans” is stirring up quite some dust. It is responded to with indignation. We feel cheated. How despicable is it if companies, under the banner of the transition to clean, green energy that is supposed to mitigate our massive impact on Earth, end up doing just as much damage as happens with the misuse of fossil fuels? But, of course, deep down we knew all along that green energy was not the holy grail that would save us from destruction without having to adjust our lifestyle. What, then, is the way forward to a future without fear of scarcity?
Because fear of scarcity is an important key factor here. We are afraid that we that we will not have enough, that we will have to adapt our behaviour, that we will no longer be able to buy, do all those things that we are used to doing and which we actually think we are entitled to. That fear has arisen and is maintained by the system that we have created in which money, and thus prosperity, is everything. We are affected throughout the day by messages telling us what we need to be happy. The whole of society is geared towards it and it is getting worse. The commercials are now not only shouting at you from your television set at home, but all over the city you can see video screens with commercials. Of course, we are influenced by that. But they sell lies …
Less is more
We don’t need that much at all. In fact, it has long been proven that owning a lot of stuff and having more money than a certain baseline income will not make us happier. What actually does make us happier is having good relationships. The Tiny House movement shows that there is a need for less. It is a movement of people who realize the above and are changing course. They then experience that they indeed do not become unhappy at all if they let go of all that surplus stuff and large houses and start living small and simple. In fact, they experience more peace, connection with others and with nature. More moments of pure happiness.
Foto: Ester Gebuis
What about nuclear energy?
Back to energy: how can we step away from fossil fuels now that the green energy industry’s dark side has been exposed? Recently I was asked if I thought that nuclear energy might be the solution. I strongly believe that this is not the answer, even though many people will disagree with me. I disagree with the idea that nuclear energy is clean energy. Nuclear energy produces residual waste that is so harmful and has such a long ‘shelf life’ that I find it irresponsible to let future generations and our planet deal with it. How can we think that a process with such harmful effects is acceptable and that it has the future? We have no right to do so.
And I think that right there is another important problem: a large part of us thinks that we do have the right to do so and that we can do whatever we want to maintain our lifestyle. I believe that we do not own this earth but are part of a great living system of countless life forms that make up the earth. It is precisely because of our intelligence that we have a very great responsibility to the other living beings on this planet and that we must protect them. So, no. I don’t believe we have the right to produce waste that is so harmful and dangerous that we have to put it in concrete bunkers in the earth where it only loses its radioactivity after 240,000 years.
But what then? As I wrote in my previous blog: we must drastically diminish our energy consumption. That is Step 1 that we should focus on. To do that, we need to return to the local economy of short chains and minimal transport. The road forward is best taken on foot or bicycle. I also think that we can still use the sun, wind and water for truly clean and green energy. We cannot do without energy. But we need to invest much more in clean production processes and high-quality recyclable products that last longer and are easier to repair. Put the ecological impact of this technology at the top of the priority list. A lot is already being done to improve solar panels and batteries; they last many times longer than about ten years ago. You will find a lot of solar panels information that can help you make informed choices.
Fhoto made by Ronald Lammers
Technological developments are happening at lightning speed and I think we can really make much cleaner products if we want to — as long as we ask the right questions. What impact does this have on nature and what can we do to reduce that impact? If I left this product in the woods, what damage would it do? This only works if earning money is not top priority. Developing and producing green energy should therefore not be left to the market, but should be organized, for example, by non-profit organizations or cooperatives with the support of the national government and with international knowledge sharing.
Learning from nature
I believe that nature is much smarter than we can imagine. So, if we come up with something that damages that nature, then we shouldn’t want to continue but instead to look closer at nature to find out where the solutions lie. We have by no means discovered all that nature has to offer. New organisms with qualities over which we marvel are still being discovered. Even plastic, a very harmful product that could never have been created without us humans, can be cleared up by enzymes and thus by nature. This should not be an excuse to continue producing plastic, which is causing so much damage worldwide. We have no right.
It’s up to us
I am happy that I can get all the energy in my house from the sun. With three panels of 300 watts each, I am fine for most of the year. I still think it’s smart to install solar panels on your roof when you have that option. If only because you become a lot more aware of your energy consumption when you have solar panels. It is almost a sport for many people to see how much energy comes in. If you want to buy solar panels, do your homework and find the right information, which can save you a lot of money and regret. But also research how you can reduce your energy consumption. There is also more than enough information about this online. Switching to green energy without reducing our energy consumption is not the way forward, in my humble opinion.