It is not often I get a chance to remain true to the topic of off-the-grid living and still indulge my penchant for politics except, of course, where I make a force fit. This time I don’t have to.
“Last year was the first year in which global investment in renewable energy was larger than investment in fossil fuels. We are nearing the tipping point. So while our prime minister shills for a pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico to ship out unprocessed bitumen, global investors are shifting their bets. Canada is the only country on earth not a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Maybe Harper and company haven’t noticed these reports. Maybe Christy Clark hasn’t realized the long-term bet on LNG is a bad bet for BC. But Canadians better start noticing that betting on fossil fuels is not only stoking the furnace on future climate disasters; in purely economic terms, it’s stupid.” Elizabeth May – Green Party of Canada
It is interesting to note that oil prices (wholesale) are down because of over-supply. Yes, gasoline prices are up but that is more a statement of corporate and government greed than it is supply and demand.
So, why is there – all of a sudden – a glut on oil? Who knows? But Elizabeth May makes the observation that the price of solar has more than halved (60% less than five years ago). And I see the price drop more dramatically because I pay (retail) a dollar-a-watt today where I paid $5.00-a -watt ten years ago. Factor in inflation and ‘future cost’ of money and all that other economic hocus pocus and I pay LESS than one fifth of what I paid ten years ago. And she claims that such a price drop is making solar competitive with oil. She claims it is more than competitive for some (like me) and so those folks not only choose to go solar, they are also NOT buying as much oil.
It is counter-intuitive in the extreme and contrary to what economists would say but low oil prices might just be an indication of increased use of green-energy.
She thinks we are at the tipping point. And she says the tipping point has already been tipped in Asia. Those emerging societies with a gazillion small entrepreneurs have shifted more significantly to solar and wind than were ever expected. The little guy is leaving the petroleum club.
I doubt that it is that simple. But I don’t really know anything. I just know my feelings, my instincts and the great confusing mish-mash that comes from a bunch o’ reading. And they are all suggesting that she may be right. We just might already be making the transition…?
Many famous environmental commentators from Stewart Brand to Paul Hawken think we are, too. They believe that ‘change’ is happening at the personal, grass roots and mini-community level. They cite the 100 mile diet, slow food, Blockadia, social media and a plethora of other examples including solar and conservation to suggest that we are all, slowly, smartening up.
‘Course the leaders aren’t. The leaders got where they got NOT by leading but by sucking up and following the How-to-Suck-Up-for-Success Rule-Book (for Dummies).
Real leadership doesn’t come from the establishment but from the Malcom Gladwell-type Outliers. The problem with the currently recognized Gladwells is that he is reporting on Outliers from three decades ago (i.e. Bill Gates). The outliers of today have yet to be recognized. Even Elon Musk is somewhat behind the cutting edge because – by cutting edge – we mean ‘experimental’ and, even though Elon Musk is committed to being there at the experimental front, being a gazillionaire takes a lot of ‘establishment’ time as well. But his engineers are up there. Musk is a leader and an outlier. One of the few.
So, what is my point? Simple, really. OTG is not necessarily catching on (people still moving to the city in hordes) but living cleaner, healthier and more independently is. Just as we are open to smarter phones, we are showing interest in smarter living. We are all trying to make a difference even if our so-called leaders are walking the wrong path. Just maybe all those small-fry still choosing to live urban can add to the revolution by putting solar panels on their roof.
And then the green movement will really get some legs.