In the face of unreliable renewables with expensive storage, many that actually understand the limits of renewable energy have argued for a totally different society that runs within the confines of these limits.

Richard Heinberg calls it Powerdown9780865715103.jpgProfessor Ted Trainer calls it The Simpler way. Before I understood nuclear power could supply us with abundant affordable power for billions of years, I found myself desperately trying to accept a Powerdown mode of thinking. It’s not all bad. Much of it aligns with the localism I admire about New Urbanism and Ecocity design. But there are some extreme elements in Powerdown scenarios that will not win over the Australian public. They would reject radical ideas about heading back to an Amish lifestyle with a little electricity during the day. We like cooking on clean electricity, air conditioning, hospitals that have reliable power, transport, industry, and the cheap goods and services that cheap energy supplies. The human race has always flocked to the low hanging fruit because we are fundamentally lazy and like things to be a bit easier. If there’s an easier way to do something, we’ll figure that out. So I’m forced to agree with Professor Barry Brook when he says:

2. The developing world lives in Ted Trainer’s power-down society already, and they are going to do everything possible to get the hell out of it. The developed world will fight tooth an nail, and will burn the planet to a soot-laden crisp, rather than embrace Trainer’s simpler way. Power down is a non-solution to the climate and energy crises…