As the interest in environmental matters rise due to ever-more-frequent disastrous weather events, also becomes manifest the separation in public mind between technology and environmentalism. There are some people who want to hear nothing about the environment and make constant claims that caring for the planet is bad for the economy. There are also people who believe that science, technology and industry are evil and want to return to the land. Both are in grave error.
The first group is wrong for a simple and obvious reason that healthy environment is necessary for a livable world. Without such, the quality of life will vastly decrease, whatever is produced by the economy. With island nations sinking into the sea, oceans turning to acid, coastal areas being flooded, and all kinds of disastrous weather events taking place, what is threatened is not only lives of a vast number of people but also the quality of life for the rest. Since the premise of economics is improving people’s existence, this state of affairs puts a lie to that claim for as long as people who claim to be interested in economic well-being remain aggressively uninterested in the health of the environment.
The second group is also in the wrong. A full-scale movement to the land by all or majority of humanity is not a feasible option. Subsistence agriculture cannot support anything close to the current world population, and if such a thing were to transpire then a vast portion of the world’s population would die. So that while a limited movement to existence outside of the industrial economy is possible, the primitivist solution is not feasible for the majority of the world’s population.
The real solution is using intelligence, science and technology to provide for economics in a way that does not hurt the planet, or at least hurts it significantly less, than do current practices. In this manner, both the environment and the economy can continue to exist. People’s economic well-being can improve, and the planet can be restored to health, resulting in a vast and sustained improvement in quality of life. And this improvement will be guiltless and in fact positive as the current polluting technologies are replaced with ones that are not polluting or minimally polluting. And while some may say that technology has created the problem, the answer is that it was wrong technology that created the problem, whereas right technology will be the solution.
One such sustainable technology is known as the Hydrogen Transmission Network (HTN). Solar energy will drive electrolysis of ocean water; hydrogen from the reaction will then be sent through pipes everywhere to be reacted on the spot with oxygen in the air and create on-demand abundant guiltless clean energy and clean water. People’s economic well-being will continue to improve; the environment will be cured of the blight of unchecked carbon emissions and nuclear waste. Meanwhile two expensive and inefficient infrastructures – electric grid and water delivery system – will be replaced with a single network of hydrogen pipes, and from today’s unwieldy mix of coal, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants the energy will be produced by one or several ocean-side electrolysis plants.
Blaming the problem on technology or science or industry is wrong. What is to be blamed is bad technology, bad practices, and inattention to what science has known for three decades. The problems of bad technology and bad practices are solved by right technology and right practices. Doing that will create real sustainable solutions for humanity. The people who want to live outside of technology should be able to do so without being criminalized or harassed. For everyone else, there is sustainable technology such as the Hydrogen Transmission Network.
In this way, economy can continue to grow, meaningful choice of lifestyles can be reality for people, and environment stands to be restored to health.
And that is a worthy future toward which to work.