Money in Society; Why Do We Need Alternatives?

Money, or any abstract medium of exchange, by its very nature creates a stratified society based primarily on purchasing power generating structural violence in our very social model.

Technology is a Tool Not a Solution

Human technology today is outstanding, mind-boggling almost beyond comprehension; we have advanced so quickly in such a short space of time that most of us are unaware of our true capabilities.

How the Environment Impacts on Human Development

There is an environmental influence in regards to human development and although the influences on the majority of our lives are subtle they are certainly present.

Why Exchanging Labour for Purchasing Power Will Always Fail

Exchanging goods or services directly as a system of economics (barter) is still in and of itself an abstraction of the exchange of labour for purchasing power.

Stop Railing on the Unemployed; Our Problems Are Structural

Due to us living within the confines of a work to earn to pay to live system we find ourselves in a position of needing some form of employment. This sets us up into an environment of structural violence and desperate competition against each other in class warfare.

Nationalism is Another Form of Division

Our planet, Earth, Gaia… Home. Everything on and within it are interconnected and in a symbiotic relationship with each other, human beings are part of a greater system, not separate from it, we do not go to nature we are nature.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

It is Time for A New Way of Thinking

The problem we are faced with is traditional thinking, the mind set that the way forward is growth and jobs.

I can understand it, we have been raised in this social environment all our lives, of course, however there are many signs of failure and they are all pointing at the same cause. We have massive unemployment to be sure, yet we also have a less discussed issue of under-employment. We have climate change marching ever closer, the continual loss of global biodiversity and the impending depletion of our all important oil reserves. It is all intertwined.

Our technological advancements are replacing jobs, spending is down resulting in reduced employment hours, which feeds back to reduced spending. All the while productivity is actually increasing. We want growth in the jobs market, get the people back to work and increase spending. Unfortunately this has a negative impact on our environment as we produce and throw away increasing amounts of junk we really never needed.

What we need in society is less, not more, and that less needs to be done much more efficiently. Our economy needs to be, well, economic. We don’t need a new I-phone every year or so, we need a phone that is built to last, that is easy to upgrade. We don’t need thirty different types of hammer or T.V. or whatever, we need to focus on building the best we can produce. In short we need global collaboration not competition.

We are currently going through the labour pains of social change, our hand is being forced as we come to understand that our social model is simply not sustainable. That change could actually happen very quickly, but we are all being held back by the antiquated thinking of our politicians whom have only one solution, more toxic growth.

Growth for the sake of growth on a planet of finite resources is a recipe for disaster, the only thing on our planet that continually grows is cancer and we all know how that ends. As Einstein said so many years ago,

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

It is time for a new way of thinking.

We need to start thinking more about each other, what it is we can do to help each other, not how we can get ahead of or be better off than each other. We need a society that is focused on cooperation and making the best most efficient use of our limited resources, so that we may sustain a high standard of living for everyone. We have all the tools we need in order to start making this a reality. This very tool we are using right now, the internet, allows us to communicate over vast distances instantaneously. It can carry carry data from anywhere in the world and make it available for everyone to see, total transparency and information for all.

Engineers from all over the world could be collaborating right now on how to construct the most efficient form of transportation. We could have vertical automated farms in every city, use 3D printing to produce houses. Transform our energy production from resource intensive power plants to renewable sources, and monitor the level of planetary resources, as examples, thanks to our ability to communicate collect and store information on a global scale.

The ability to change is at our fingertips, it is so tantalisingly close, if only we could change our attitudes toward each other. You see this is the crux of the problem, the dilemma, while we have the technical ability to change we are yet to develop the desire. Social conditioning has made it very difficult to consider that we could actually be better of if we drastically altered our form of economics. How could we be better off when we have all this great stuff?

We still think so inwardly, sure the plight of the three billion poverty stricken on our planet is a very serious issue and we all want that to change, but I also want my plastic whatcha ma call it with the three month guarantee and free subscription to pointlessshit.com. We are afraid, we have worked so damn hard to get to where we are and we are not about to let go without a fight.

It is fear that keeps this system going, our fear of failure, that if we try something new things might get really bad for us. Here is the kicker, things are really bad. All we need to do is spend some time looking around and recognising how things have been continually degrading all our lives. Sure we have lots of neat toys, but what has the cost been, socially and environmentally? Besides if we looked after each other and our planet the things we would have less of might be the things we are happy to do without. War, famine, ill health, work, less of these may be desirable, and while we may have less brands of toys is it possible that we would have better performing toys? Do we really think we could not do better than this?

If we look at the path we are on objectively we can see where it is leading, we are not stupid, a future with less animal life, less environmental stability, less opportunity. To continue down this corporate controlled consumer path, remaining blissfully ignorant of the reality we are faced with, stealing from the future to appease our false wants, will only lead us to a slow grinding self destruction.

We are human beings, full of potential, we can do anything we put our minds to. We can have a new social contract, a new economy, a resource based economy. It all starts with us changing the way we think about each other and the world we live on together.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Why Rising Fuel Prices Are Good And Fuel Subsidies Are Bad

Steadily increasing petrol/diesel prices in our economy can create tension and while increasing costs at the petrol pump they also have a flow on effect that influences the cost of consumer goods across the board. Everything we have in the market is made available to us, in one way or another, thanks to oil or fossilised sunlight. Our machines which help us gather natural resources, freight transportation, machines used in manufacturing, a healthy proportion of our energy production, fertilizers for our food, pesticides, packaging, public and private transport, all require the use of oil. As the price of oil/petrol/diesel creeps higher, so must the prices of our consumer goods. As prices rise the increasing financial pressure on families can result in a slowing in consumption trends, which in turn creates job losses and reduced working hours, compounding the strain on our consumption based financial markets and leading us into recession/depression.

So how can rising fuel prices be good and subsidies be bad?


In order to understand this we must step back, look at our economy and identify what it is doing to both us and our planet.
Dictionary.com defines the word economy as; thrifty management; frugality in the expenditure or consumption of money, materials, etc.: the efficient, sparing, or concise use of something.
So if our "economy" is based on the idea that we all get "jobs" to earn money so that we can pay for the necessities of life, then be bombarded with advertising (corporate lying) which attempts to entice us to continually purchase things we don't really need, so we can impress people we don't know, on a planet of finite resources, is that really what an economy should be doing?
With the foundation of our "economy" being consumption for the sake of consumption, so that we can keep people employed, should we be surprised to find that we are destroying our biosphere at an exponential rate?

While we have cheap oil the gears of the machine continue to function with ease, consumption levels continue to increase beyond the already unsustainable levels they reached decades ago. We compound the damage we have done to our planet and find ourselves surpassing environmental tipping points which result in negative feedback loops that exasperate serious environmental problems which we currently have no answers for.


So yes, if we look only at the single aspect of paying to live, then low fuel prices and government subsidies are desirable. However if we look at the bigger picture and identify what our "economy" or anti-economy is doing, how our continued unquestioning participation is causing serious ecological decline, we can begin to see that cheap oil and government subsidies are doing little more than providing jobs and accelerating the decline.

If one thing needs to become clear to our species it is that we desperately need a new system, which we have discussed here, here, and here.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Coal Rolling

It is not everyday that one sees something outlandishly stupid, sure we will all come across mental mediocrity from time to time, but truly mind numbing intellectual vacuousness, those moments are thankfully very rare. Unfortunately it would appear we have stumbled upon one such example of bona fide mental desolation.

It appears a small segment of our society have taken exception with humanities modest attempts to deal with the very real issue of climate change and have decided to find a fascinatingly inane way to express themselves.

Coal Rolling.

Conservatives, in the United States, upset with steps being taken to reduce carbon emissions have had their vehicles modified to produce copious amounts of black smoke on demand.

The conversions cost anywhere from $500 to $5000 depending on the amount of work that needs to be completed. Not to mention the ill effects on both human life and the environment.

Better yet is it would appear that "Coal Rolling" is perfectly legal.

The mentality is best summed up by this quote.

“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all, if he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”
Seller of stack kits from Wisconsin.

That one-way ticket to Mars gets more enticing with every passing day.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Economy We Could Have

Business confidence is on the table; politicians and the business community at large would have us believe that the problems in our economy are a result of poor business confidence and that the resolution to our socio-economic issues would be resolved by boosting confidence in the business sector. Confidence…. What are we actually talking about when we discuss business confidence?

Shopping, the term business confidence translates into, means corporations being reassured that people will head out and spend their hard earned cash on goods and services in a repetitious fashion, empowering growth and securing job stability in the market. Nowhere in that equation is there concern or quarter given to biosphere sustainability or the impacts of a throw away consumption model, built around perceived obsolescence, on our children’s and grand-children’s futures. The term environmental sustainability is not in the lexicon of our business community at large, the focus is on profit projections, consumption trends, cuts to financial costs and marketing to capture repeat custom.

An economy that has its basis in environmental concern, sustainability, equality, love and the type of freedom that does not require us to be told we are free: That is a direction we can head in as a species. In the direction of what has been termed a Resource Based Economic Model (R.B.E.M.).

What is a Resource Based Economic Model (R.B.E.M.)

A R.B.E.M. is more than an economic system; it is a way of life, a holistic social and economic system that requires the Earth’s resources be viewed as the common heritage of all the Earth’s inhabitants. That promotes the understanding that the Earth is not something to be divided and owned, but rather is our shared home that requires our collective stewardship. It makes use of resources, not money and concentrates on equitable distribution in the most humane and efficient manner possible. It provides all goods and services to everyone without the use of money, barter, credits or any other form of debt of servitude. Our current scientific understandings and technological advancement can easily allow us to provide access abundance for all the worlds population and that is the aim of a R.B.E.M.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein

The implementation of such an economy will require a fundamental values shift. Hoarding, greed and superficial commercially manufactured desires, which are so prevalent in our society today, have no place in such an economy. It is the pervasiveness of this values disorder that can get in the way of understanding or even entering into discourse about this type of economy. Just as one must be prepared to understand that our monetary economy is not inherently evil, as it was developed in a time of real scarcity, as a mechanism by which to ration as fairly as we knew how, one must also accept that over thousands of years things have changed, we understand more about our natural world and our technical capabilities have exploded beyond what our rationing system can cope with. It is for this reason that we must accept that questioning our current economy and its fundamental mechanics should not be seen as taboo, but as a part of our natural progression as a social animal on this planet.

As a species we have developed a tendency to mistrust each other. When operating socially from the confines of an economic system that requires us to strive to gain differential advantage over one another in order to elevate our standard of living, this should come as no surprise. Such permeating mistrust runs the gambit from the rational; having a reluctance to divulge personal information to unknown people over the internet, through to the irrational; being convinced that scientists are working in collusion with government agencies to gain control over us via a climate change conspiracy. (Article to come) This propensity to see conspiracy everywhere shows up as soon as we begin to discuss a computerized system of accounting planetary resources, which when looking at something as complex as monitoring resource abundance/scarcity on a global scale is absolutely necessary.

The Evil All Controlling Economy Supercomputer

It is a commonly held misunderstanding that in a resource based economy there will be a centralised supercomputer controlling our lives, dictating what we can and can not do. While it is true that computers will be needed to collect and store data in relation to resource monitoring systems, the idea that it will be one all seeing, all controlling computer overlord is a misnomer. What we could expect is that there would be many computers all over the world collecting and monitoring data in relation to regional resources and overall use. This would not include data on individuals, but on overall collective use and regeneration of resources constantly updated to give the most accurate assessment of levels of resource availability. This would not make decisions for us, but rather empower us with the knowledge of current resource availability enabling us to contemplate when, how and what we would use specific resources for. As a simple example, if we became aware through resource monitoring that at a specific global location water was becoming scarce, we would be able to perhaps choose to have shorter showers, have water imported from another location, or investigate improved ways to put that resource to use in the interest of sustainability. It would be people, the people living in the area, that would make those decisions. Not some computer, the computer would do nothing more than allow us to be aware of impending resource scarcity, how we reacted to that information would be up to us.

Again it must be understood that we are not going to awaken in the morning and suddenly find ourselves living in such an economy, before that can happen there are fundamental things that must change about the way we view our planet and each other. We must undergo a values shift, which will allow us to see each other as brothers and sisters sharing a small delicate planet — that it is in our interests to nurture as opposed to stripping bare in some vain effort to get ahead of each other. This wont happen overnight, but it will and has already begun to happen all over our world. The more time we spend understanding our biosphere and how that relates to the welfare of not only ourselves but every life form we share our home with, the more inclined we will be to question our current systems approach to life on earth. The interconnected relationships we have with not only each other, but the planet itself will become increasingly apparent and will implore us to reassess our social methods on a continuous basis, keeping us from entering into some utopian stagnation, but instead encouraging us to constantly update our methodology to come into line with up to date understandings and environmental circumstances.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Henry Ford

It is when it becomes accepted that a system has failed that emergent ideas can take hold and be allowed to flourish. It is long since past time to acknowledge that our economy is not just failing, but has clearly failed and with it all the systems that have been built up around it. The symptoms of that failure are prevalent in the world around us and to deny there existence or pontificate about superficial reforms could come at severe cost to our entire species.

“A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child.”
Albert Einstein

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Most Important Thing Happening on Our Planet Today

The most important thing happening on our planet today, shock horror, has nothing to do with a sports team or an election. I know it is hard to believe there could be anything more important than someone playing with a ball, or the outright lies of some political puppet, but strangely enough as it should happen there is. Socially we are experiencing the effects of a serious values disorder that through time has permeated into every facet of our existence. Culminating in a cheapening and almost complete disregard for what it means to be a human being.

Our own children are paying a price for this values disorder, for in today’s society it is a luxury afforded by few to escape the wage labour system in order to be at home and raise a child. All too often our children are dumped in “care” facilities, so that as parents we can rush off to jobs to earn a weekly wage in order to pay for life. Leaving the raising of our children to strangers, whom may or may not hold similar values to ourselves. This situation has become so ubiquitous within society today that very little thought, if any at all, is given to it or how it may be impacting on our own children.  

Consider the depth of the conversations we are having in today’s world, if Facebook is anything to go by then we certainly have little to nothing to be proud of. The discourse covers Idol, X Factor, sales, drunken nights out and so on for the majority,  those that attempt to expand the conversation into areas of equality or sustainability tend to be relegated to the fringes seen as killjoys or people that need to chill out.

Our lives are described by dollars, how much we earn, the price we can pay for products, the level and type of insurance we have, even our death is something we are expected to financially plan for. We would not want to leave this world a burden on our own children, well what about our dying environment? What type of burden will that be?

This is it,
exactly the type of conversation we are not supposed to be having on this planet.


We should be parking ourselves in front of our television screens, watching “reality” media crap, voting for the next idol with the “X” factor and generally allowing ourselves to be gently distracted from anything that may actually matter. Praise be the all mighty television, numb my mind, help me escape once more after another day of nine to five drudgery, so that I may arise in the morning to do it all again.

We are not managing our household with any kind of impunity; every life support system on our planet is in decline. Failing to recognise and come into line with natural limits is having a direct impact on every species we share this planet with, and for what? Consumer goods, the production of materialist things at the expense of sustainability on planet Earth.

Approximately 72 percent of the surface of Earth is covered in water and of that, only 3 percent is freshwater. In 1960 the Aral Sea was the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world, in the 1950′s in an effort to irrigate the desert in order to grow cereals, melons, rice and cotton the two main rivers feeding the sea were diverted away. It worked, today Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, but it came at a high cost. During the early 60′s roughly 60,000 people were employed in the thriving fishing industry, by 1977 fish harvests had declined by 75 percent and the 1980′s saw the elimination of the entire commercial fishing industry. As the Aral Sea declined fertiliser and pesticides polluted the remaining, increasingly salty, water. Agricultural chemicals and salt, that contaminated the lake-bed, were blown in dust storms, settling on farmland, degrading the soil. Farms flushed with greater and greater amounts of river water, that feed the lake, only worked to exasperate the problem.

The Aral sea is not the only place we can see fresh water decline, twenty-five percent of the worlds river systems no longer make it to the oceans for at least part of the year. Causing the destruction of wetlands, drying of the landscape and destroying fisheries.

Our veracious appetites for cheap energy has lead to increasing levels of carbon in our atmosphere as we burn fossil fuels in order to meet  those needs. Not only does that carbon work to retain solar energy, increasing temperatures on our planet, it also has direct impacts on the worlds oceans. As carbon levels increase in the atmosphere, increasing amounts of carbon are absorbed by our oceans which is increasing ocean acidity. While the impacts of this increased acidification are not known for certain, scientists from the University of Chicago who studied ocean ph levels for 8 years (the first detailed dataset on variations of coastal pH at a temperate latitude) expect the increase will have severe impacts on marine food webs and could interfere with coral reef building. Researchers are warning that higher acidity levels in the worlds oceans could directly impact on the development and reproduction of marine organisms such as; jellyfish: sea anemones: plankton and coral. It has also been found that this increase in C02 in the ocean can make marine animals more susceptible to ocean ‘dead zones’.

As we pave over, pollute, introduce foreign species and generally destroy ecosystems in order to harvest natural resources, we are doing severe damage to global biodiversity. This loss of global biodiversity, that in the 20th century occurred at a rate one thousand times faster then the average rate at any time in the preceding sixty-five million years, is predicted to create agricultural problems threatening food supplies to hundreds of millions of people. This continued loss of biodiversity is also expected to impact on human health, as many pharmaceutical and medical treatments are made through understanding the earth’s biodiversity. This continued loss of biodiversity will also limit the discovery of treatments for diseases and general health issues.

Our economy, based on continual consumption to drive greater and greater profit taking by an ever diminishing percentage of our population, is directly responsible for the damage being done to our planet. Should we continue to operate from the confines of this model it can only be expected that our planet, the only one we and our immediate future generations have to live on, will be pushed past multiple tipping points leaving our children and grandchildren struggling to carve out a meagre form of existence. If the planet can continue to support life at all, in the short term.

We are on the exponential growth curve, past social innovators would marvel at our creations and in all likelihood be dismayed at the complete and total lack of overall social progress in relation to those innovations.  Through many years of social indoctrination we have become mentally trapped inside the illusion that we need our current economic system in order to continue to exist and create as a species, nothing could be further from the truth. If we understand that our planet and in turn biosphere, is part of one interconnected organism we can quickly see that it is only logical that our economic system should protect and cherish our planetary environment.

Not destroy it.
 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Money in Society; Why Do We Need Alternatives?

Money, or any abstract medium of exchange, by its very nature creates a stratified society based primarily on purchasing power generating structural violence in our very social model. We are in direct competition with each other in the job market and there is a give take battle between the employee looking to get a higher wage and the employer balancing wages against profitability. There is no equality for our species in a sliding scale of pay rates that have a direct impact on quality of life and access to goods and services. If we continue to operate our society based on the need to earn to pay to live, then as a direct result what we are saying is that every human needs a form of employment to prove their worth. The result of this is a continually exasperated version of what we have now, poverty, fraud, theft, the list goes on. Currently there are not enough employment roles available to provide everyone with a job, a direct result of this in our current system is that due to under and unemployment a growing number of people are looked down upon for being reliant on a social safety net. Or they are simply ignored left on the street relying on the charity of others in the hope of sustaining their lives, which is hardly living and is better referred to as existing.

Even if by some miracle we could find a way to generate enough employment roles to allow everyone to have a job, the results would be a near insane level of both production and consumption that would be required to maintain those levels of employment. The environmental degradation resulting from the required resource waste to maintain those production levels, would leave our future generations little to no hope of having an environment that could support even the most modest subsistence. With “full employment” there is still not equality in “pay” so we continue to find our society experiencing all the symptoms that come with social stratification, including the continued reinforcement of a values disorder that has the majority in a race to the bottom in a vain effort to accumulate the most stuff, and have the most power. Not only is it basically retarded, it is totally unsustainable on any and every level.

Our “wants” are generated by our distorted values that are programmed into us through marketing in an attempt to keep our current system of anti-economics limping along, our “needs” are serviced but only to the degree that is profitable; this is evident in the reactions to the inability to sell food in our free market system.  Everything in our world is produced with a limited life span, far below that which we are capable of, in order to keep everyone buying, buying, buying. That is how you keep billions of people employed, create mountains of complete and utter shit, while selling the notion to the masses that if you just work a little harder you too can rise to the top of the pyramid and have it all. Whatever “having it all” is supposed to mean. Our social malaise has gotten so bad that individuals actually buy into the idea that money can create comfort and happiness, while disregarding the fact that suffering creates fear, creates hate, creates violence. Thus making comfort and happiness something increasingly difficult to obtain in a world of continually exasperated levels of suffering.

Now while again it is true that we live on a planet of finite resources, we are most certainly capable of creating abundance. In today’s world we produce enough food to feed every single human on the planet, our problem is with distribution not production. If we stop and look around our society, taking stock of what we see, it becomes clear that scarcity is being manufactured in order to drive profits, maintain the status quo and our outmoded economic system. As an example of this look at phones, how many companies on our planet produce a version of a telephone and of that, how vast is the product range of each company? The point here is that as opposed to producing a stratified range of made to break products, we could produce high quality equipment in abundance that made use of intelligent design principals. Allowing for ease of upgrade, repair, aesthetic manipulation and to be as near to 100% recyclable as possible.

We have options, we could consider altering our system of economics to come into line with the natural laws of our planet and to remain flexible enough to change with and as our understandings of the world we are living in progress. The idea of altering our economy is not unrealistic, what is unrealistic is to imagine that our current antiquated economy that demands near infinite production on a finite planet is not only sustainable but is the best system we can currently muster as a species. I am not sure I have ever heard anything more utopian. It must also be understood that every aspect of our current social design is complicit in reinforcing our current economic system. Making surface changes to our type of money or how it is created fails to deal with serious issues like stratification, inequality, resource use/waste, unemployment, underemployment and poverty to name a few. As a result it is not simply our economy that must be altered, but every aspect of our social structure must be reviewed and upgraded to reinforce equality and sustainability.

Now of course we will not have a new type of economy overnight or any time soon, that has a whole lot to do with our distorted values and ingrained social conditioning. Selling money reforms as any type of solution is failing to look at the bigger picture and understanding the interconnected nature of our social issues. In saying that transition away from money is going to include changes to how money works in our society, allowing people to redefine how they see and what money means to them, facilitating an overall change in our values system as a species. There is a very interesting concept being talked about that has the potential to bring about this change, it is called the basic income. The basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:
  • it is being paid to individuals rather than households;
  • it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;
  • it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the willingness to accept a job if offered.
You can find out more about “The Basic Income” at basicincome.org
The predisposition to support the current system and by default the status quo is ingrained in us all our lives through our social conditioning and is exactly what the powers that be would be jubilant seeing being reinforced.
In a social model in which children die as a result of not having their most basic needs met, we can be sure of one thing. We have serious structural issues that require addressing.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Realising Free Energy by Rejecting Antiquated Technology

The internal combustion engine has been with us for a very long time, since 1680 to be exact, when a Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens, designed an engine that would be driven by gunpowder. Twenty-seven years later Francois Isaac de Rivaz from Switzerland designed and built a car for his combustion engine that was fueled by a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen. His design proved to be very unsuccessful. Samuel Brown, an English engineer, adapted an old steam engine to burn gas in 1824, thirty-four years later Jean Joseph √Čtienne Lenoir invented a electric spark-ignition internal combustion engine fueled by coal gas. In 1873 an American engineer by the name of George Brayton, developed an unsuccessful two-stroke kerosene engine, considered the first safe and practical oil engine. By 1876 the first successful two-stroke engine was invented by Sir Dougald Clerk, and 1885 saw Gottlieb Daimler invent what was considered the prototype of the modern gas engine. On the 29th of January 1886 Karl Benz received the first patent for a gas-fueled car.

The First commercial car production began in 1889 by Panhard & Levassor and was followed closely by Peugeot in 1891. It would be another 17 years before Henry Ford would revolutionise the car industry, in October of 1908, through mass production techniques that would move the auto-mobile away from being a luxury item, and make it essential transportation for the ordinary man.

There was a time when the electric engine was the engine of choice for auto-mobiles, in 1897 a fleet of New York city taxies built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company were the first commercial E.V. (Electric Vehicle) application. During 1899 and 1900, electric cars outsold all other types of cars. They were clean, quiet, easy to start and were marketed as the best car for women.

The E.V.s were successful into the 1920s and production peaked in 1912. The short range of the electric vehicle would help to bring about its demise in the 1920s. Better road networks that connected cities required longer range than the battery vehicles could provide. Texas crude oil brought a reduction to the price of gas, making it affordable to the average consumer, the invention of the electric starter in 1912 replaced the old hand crank, and the mass production of the Ford Company reduced the cost of gas powered vehicles. In 1912 an E.V. was selling for $1750, while its gas powered counterpart was a more affordable $650.

While the fundamental downfall of the E.V. in the early 1900s was due to inadequate battery life, resulting in less than desirable range for the vehicles, what we have been left with is an extremely high dependency as a society on fossil fuels and oil in particular. The last 100 years however have seen profound innovations in both electrical storage and generation with research and development in, but not limited to wind power, solar energy, geothermal energy, wave power and tidal power. While all of these forms of energy production have clear advantages to burning fossil fuels, they also have their downfalls.

  • Wind turbines of course rely on wind to generate power and wind fluctuates in strength, meaning there will be times when the turbine produces no energy. Each generator can produce the same amount of noise as a family car travelling at 70 km/h.
  • Solar power needs sunlight, so of course during the night no power is produced. Solar cells create D.C. power that needs to be converted to A.C. power costing energy for the conversion. Silan gas, used to deliver silicon molecules to a surface, explodes on contact with air and has been involved in 10 deaths in the last 20 years in the solar cell production industry.
  • Geothermal plants need a location that offers suitable hot rocks at an easy to drill to depth without having rock that is too difficult to drill through above. Locations may temporarily run out of steam, this can last for several months and means the plant is producing no energy during this time. Hazardous gases and minerals can be released, such as hydrogen sulphide, arsenic, mercury and ammonia.
  • Wave power that would generate 1000 M.W. of electricity would require just over 20 K.M. of coastline in a high energy wave area, such as the Pacific Northwest. It can disturb or disrupt marine life. There is great variety in the strength of waves over a year, month, day and this makes it difficult to predict how much energy a wave power plant can produce.
  • Tidal power has a considerable effect on the ecosystem, such as increased levels of pollution, decreased levels of salinity in the basin and increased levels of sediment, due to decreased levels of water volume exchange between the basin and sea. Power is only generated when tides flow in or out of the basin.
None of these technologies are capable of decreasing our growing need for fossil fuels to power our transportation. In order to reduce our dependence on crude oil significantly will require either serious advancements in our battery storage capabilities, or a dramatic new technological innovation.  That innovation may have just arrived.

Carbon Nanotubes

In 1991 a Japanese scientist, Sumio Iijima, discovered carbon nanotubes, cylindrical structures with a diameter of as little as 1 nm and lengths up to several centimetres. They are the strongest known material, are pliable not brittle, and are used to strengthen composite materials. They also have outstanding electrical properties, being 1000 times more conductive than copper wire. Mark Bissett, from Flinders University’s School of Chemical and Physical Sciences using carbon nanotubes has created a transparent solar cell that can be sprayed onto windows.
“When light shines on the cell, electrons are generated within the carbon nanotubes and these can be used to power electrical devices, it’s basically like tinting the windows except they’re able to produce electricity, and considering office buildings don’t have a lot of roof space for solar panels, it makes sense to utilize the many windows they do have instead.”
Dr Bissett

 

Now think of the implications, not only cars that run on what is essentially free energy from sunlight, but on a social level in general, no longer needing large centralized power companies, no longer needing large power grids. Just free, clean, renewable energy from nothing more than sunlight.

While you are thinking about that, consider this. What happens to employment, or more to the point unemployment? With this type of technology in place, how many people will find themselves in a position of having no job? Employees of power generation companies, electrical distribution companies, petroleum companies, the combustion engine industry, the battery industry, and every single company and industry that services those industries almost completely gone not to mention the incredible reduction in our need for oil. As a direct result of this kind of mass unemployment, how will our economic model, which is based entirely on exchanging labour for purchasing power in order to consume products to keep everyone employed, survive? How can it continue?

It cannot.

We as a society will be forced to make fundamental changes to the way we operate. We will be forced to identify what is and what is not important, forced to acknowledge the redundancy of our current modus operandi. We have the technology and understandings of our natural world that will enable us to lead free, healthy lives. To allow us to invest time and energy into the things that matter, our families, our friends, and each other.

Buckle you seatbelts ladies and gentlemen,
things are about to get very interesting.