Sun versus sun

March 28, 2013 | 00:00

Sun versus sun

An intriguing paradox can bring light into a metaphorical darkness of choice. Sometimes a must leads to a breakthrough.

“As long as there’s no demand there’s no supply, as long as there’s no supply it won’t generate any demand.” It is not an illogical description of the situation by Rob Winkel of Ecofys in our main feature of today. And he adds: That’s because major investments are required on both sides – and parties only take the step once they are sure that the opposite number is also completely committed.
In this case it alludes to a special and limited situation. A specific, influential detail is that there is no immediate advantage making the difference and the choice inevitable.

However, it sounds like a description that is applicable to more situations in life and certainly in the problematic energy transition debate about global warming, climate change and causes: Should we drive in top gear or do we have and need more time to realise the biggest adjustment in human history? It is a unique problem, because it involves every human individual, all societal processes and nations on our planet, not to forget all other living creatures and nature itself. If ever the term complexity is in place, it is in this case.

We may not expect that waiting for a commitment among all parties involved brings the solution. On the other hand waiting for a boiling point does not sound like the homo sapiens is intelligently managing his own well-being. And then there are also paradoxical issues around the corner.

Let me give one example. If, for instance, we should reach the final conclusion that solar activities are the main cause for global warming, then we have to accept that we must defend ourselves against the negative effects. Rising of the sea level, flooding, droughts, extreme weather conditions, a long list of threats will require an equally long list of counter measures. Huge projects are necessary that demand huge energy volumes. As renewable energy on this scale will not be available on a short notice all conventional and unconventional types of energy have to be brought into action in the first place, added with all that renewable energy at the time can deliver. And in the end of course we need the help of the sun itself.

Imagine, should such an energy force be needed, we will use solar power to defend us against excessive solar power.

 

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