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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

David Blittersdorf’s View from the Top “Too Much Carbon”

David Blittersdorf’s

View from the Top “Too Much Carbon”

David Blittersdorf portrait cropped square

As individuals & as members of a modern industrial society, we must face up to a few simple facts.  Energy shortage is driven by population growth, & the demand for fossil & nuclear fuels will shortly exceed the finite supply of those resources. If we don’t acknowledge this, & act on that knowledge, our modern civilization as we know it will fail & collapse. Civilizations collapse when they exceed the carrying capacity of their environments. Jared Diamond’s excellent book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed goes into some detail showing how & when past cultures have fallen into decline. We are now living in the biggest experiment humans have ever conducted. Collapse is a 100% certainty unless we get beyond denial of our energy problems.

About 150 years ago, humanity won the biggest lottery our species had ever imagined: We tapped into fossil fuels, & our energy worries seemed to be over.  First we mined coal, then oil, then natural gas, & the energy provided by these fuels enabled us to build the modern world as we know it. Now, almost 90% of the energy used worldwide comes from fossil fuels. However, we now know that there is a fixed amount of fossil fuels on our little Earth. Coal is the most abundant, but has the highest carbon pollution & is the most destructive to our life support system. Peak oil production worldwide just happened a few years ago. Oil is the #1 fossil fuel (40% of world energy) & it is now in depletion, meaning that from here on out, there will be less & less available each year.

Just like lottery winners who end up bankrupt, we are using fossil fuels like a lottery winner spends cash: “Easy come, easy go.” By 2050, most of the easily mined fossil fuel resources will be used up. In the question of energy consumption, we must wean ourselves from a diet of too much carbon – & transition to living on our weekly paychecks instead of the lottery winnings. This is a much smaller amount than we are used to. We need to reduce energy consumption 80% by 2050. Massive conservation, efficiency & a huge shift to renewable energy are required to help us do this. (Coincidentally, CO2 needs to be reduced by 80% by the same deadline to reduce global warming, & fossil fuels produce all that carbon, so reducing energy consumption is also key for the environment.) Fossil fuel use must & will be reduced to 20% of present usage. Both large & small scale renewable energy resources like wind & solar are key ingredients in this equation. If we embrace this change, we will survive & be better off in a less energy intensive & more renewable-powered world. This is a requirement to survive – not an option.

David Blittersdorf is the President/CEO of AllEarth Renewables in Williston, VT – a company that specializes in the design, manufacture & installation of grid-connected wind & solar renewable energy systems. He is also the founder of NRG Systems in Hinesburg, Vermont.  

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