It's 2061, how's life?

By John Gregg
Posted on 5 September 2011
Filed under Integrated Sustainability

Andrew Craig hit the start-button on a balmy Albany April day. His Landcruiser unhooked from the household power, then the twin electric motors cut in and moved it quietly down the drive. The silence disturbed some people when HydroElectrics first took over the V8 market, so they’d bought the audio option that simulated the sound of a historical V8 engine. Now the only time you’d hear anything like that was when the amplified “chugga, chugga, chugga” of a Harley Electro Hog drifted through the open window.

It was a long drive to Perth for Andrew and his daughter Jenny and, though the sun was shining and the cleaned solar panels on the roof of Andrews’  big Landcruiser Suburban would add charge to the high-test Beijing batteries, but they’d also have to burn some hydrogen before reaching the luxurious Abrolhos Marriott.

This could be the last International Wind Farmers Conference, and as one of the dwindling number of founding members who was still on the ball, Andrew was up for the opening keynote. He had plenty of time to consider his speech. Australian Clean Tech – now a major multinational corporation – had taken over the business and he no longer needed to worry about the 300 big turbines on the property. He’d installed and cared for those whirling power plants all his adult life and he’d done such a good job even the 60 year old antique Danish monsters were still pushing good amperage.

For a wind farmer descended form generation of dairy farmers, Andrew was an eloquent and compelling speaker. A devout Christian, he’d played a big part in influencing his congregation, to embrace the view that stewardship of this green world is of primary responsibility for people of faith. Even so the advocacy of those who shared his conviction would not have carried the day without the cumulating awareness that there was less water to drink, temperatures were inexorably rising and millions of hectares’ of Australia’s best agricultural areas were no longer agriculturally viable.

Andrew was reflecting on the massive events that had accrued overseas that impacted his life. Ironically in America it was the ‘new’ Republicans (now unrecognisable from the neo cons of the first decade of the century) and their chief strategist Arnie Schwarzenegger who in 2020 had pushed the final legislation that mandated a 90 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2070. While at the same time China, had failed to reign in its semi-autonomous provinces, the result being the clean policy legislation instituted in Beijing carried little “stick” for those who did not comply.

Now in 2061, we see desertification across the entire Western Beijing Plains, dust storms from the Inner Mongolian land long denuded of fauna for open pit coal extraction now roll in giant waves from the desert, reducing within minutes visibility to a maximum of 5 metres. Upon retreat millions of tonnes of red sand clog the streets, stores and homes. Economic refugees -- mainly famers -- have flowed into Beijing and live on the margins of society, the drifting sands themselves having encroached many Beijing suburbs and a social municipal department has been established to try and clear the sand drift in the suburbs. The Chinese Public are not happy campers.

Back to global actions, even more remarkable than the global GHG reductions commitments was the 2023 signing of the international convention that stated: “The deliberate suppression of science relating to climate change and technology that will alleviate the severity of global warming is a crime against humanity.”

Andrew’s thoughts returned to the task ahead. He’d thought very carefully about his speech. He wanted to convey the immense pride in the contributions that the thousands of fellow wind farmers had made to cleaning and greening the country they loved so much. Of course, the efforts by the "windies” had been just a part of the extraordinary Australian and global energy and determination that stabilised CO2 in the air at just below 450ppm; a momentous achievement that many had thought could never be achieved. The announcement prompted waves of celebration, street parties and gatherings across the world. These united efforts by the many across all cultures resembled the UN’s original charter of over one hundred years ago. Here the combined will and determination of the people and politicians and their rapid concrete actions had come together to find solutions to the greatest threat our planet had ever faced.

With the EU leading the way with the institution of tariffs against goods manufactured in countries that would not comply with internationally agreed carbon targets, the rest of the world had quickly followed suit. As the decades passed, they’d watched new industries emerge, along with a healthier and in every way happier society as people had gathered into closer communities and rediscover the delights of a sustainable lifestyle.

With the EU leading and China reluctantly playing ball (no doubt reminded of the economic impact of degradation back home), remitting carbon taxes back to supply the necessary resources to the poor nations of the planet had also led to a new sense of an international accord, and to a view that humanity had somehow returned to a sense of sanity. Weapon sales had been displaced by green technology and products that were designed to be recycled as the biggest revenue earners for all members of the UN Security Council. A remarkable transition that would have been dismissed out of hand by Friedman, Hayek, Von Mises even Keynes. These possibilities were simply not on their radars screen of the future.

Andrew felt good about his life, what he had stood for and what he had done, as Jenny slept the car glided silently along and the kilometres rolled gently by. He knew that the future was assured for his Grandchildren and their Grandchildren.

 

This post is the first one in a new category of "Free Thinking" pieces that will explore important issues by unconventional but creative means.

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