Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spotless days: 400 and counting

An update from Anthony Watts on the continued, ongoing (and lengthy) absence of sunspot activity, that has meant the start of this decade has been marked by steady declines in temperatures.

While ongoing temperature decreases may make belief in AGW increasingly tenuous (hopefully), the long-term need for alternative energy sources will survive as a worthwhile legacy of the AGW myth.

Gradually, more and more focus is being paid to energy policy and energy futures. Not surprisingly, different ideologies lead to different perspectives on the need for future energy supplies to be variously:
  • cheap
  • efficient
  • cost-effective
  • renewable
  • practical
  • dispersed
  • non-corporate. etc.
Clearly, some of these desires can be conflicting and/or incompatible, but at least there is the vestige of reasonable debate being shown by various posts from all ideological perspectives: e.g. here, here and here.

And here is where it gets difficult.

All environmental issues pass through an issue-attention cycle, wherein an issue is discovered, passes through a period of euphoric recognition, becomes adopted as a mainstream construct and then waxes as the impacts and realities of action, intervention and implementation become apparent.

Traditionally, environmentalism has been at its strongest in raising awareness, instilling fear and identifying issues for concern. Many activists have been somewhat less diligent, and applied, in any efforts to develop and implement practical changes and development alternatives as issues transcend the earlier euphoria of discovery and pass into the practicalities of real life.

So, irrespective of climate and climate change, continued sustainable globalization requires the ongoing provision of low-cost energy. Expensive energy is not conducive to sustained development: not for the developed world nor for developing countries. Subsequently, energy is likely to remain a central factor in global geopolitics and, in the real world of politics, environmental concerns are likely to remain a ubiquitous statement of piety more than a defining characteristic of any specific energy policy.