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    By Roza Riaikkenen

    Published in the Australian Theosophical Society Newsletter N91 April2007


    The editorial in the August issue of the ATS newsletter asks us a question: “Do We Have a Future?” It refers to the books of a British scientist James Lovelock who, due to pollution and global warming, doesn’t see a future for humanity if we continue to live on Earth in the same way we are living, thinking and behaving today.

    The question is philosophical, but it turns to be very practical today when decisions ought to be made on the ways of receiving energy in Australia. Energy – the main source of life, either for an individual or for the population in common. Our answer to the question about our future depends on the decisions made today, but how can we predict the consequences of our choices if we have no criteria for comparing the options and scenarios which we choose? The customary criterion counting monetary profits and losses seems to be useless in this case.

    In the 1970’s the Russian scientist P.G.Kuznetsov devised a model of a simple converter, which can be applied to describe any natural or man made process, for example, the process of receiving energy. He suggested two criteria for the evaluation of the process: converter’s efficiency and the factor of contamination. The first criterion – efficiency – is the ratio between the useful output of the converter (in our case, energy that we receive) and its input (all the expenses of energy, materials and labour which provide the functioning of the converter). The second – factor of contamination - is the ratio between the waste and emissions from the converter and its useful output.

    The higher efficiency and lower contamination the better the converter. In our case, we can interpret this idea in simple words: the less we take from Earth to receive the same amount of energy, and the less we contaminate the environment for the same amount of energy, the more effective and clean our technology.

    Now, as we have the criteria, we have the basis for comparison, and our contemplation is getting more substantiated. For centuries, we used to rely on fossil fuels, which were extracted from the bowels of the earth and, as it appears now, the emissions in time resulted in climate change. We are now closely looking at the option of nuclear power. This again means extracting uranium from the bowels of the earth and producing radioactive waste with unpredictable consequences for the land and the sea where it is meant to be stored. Especially, having in mind possible earthquakes and other natural and man made cataclysms. Even without any cataclysms, the Chernobyl catastrophe has demonstrated to us the immense scale of the consequences of losing control over nuclear power for a whole region and beyond - all due to a technical mistake.

    So, it is difficult to compare what is more efficient and less contaminating: fossil or nuclear fuels. And we just contemplated the factor of contamination, when, in fact, we know nothing about the possible misbalancing effect which may eventuate for our continent from the extraction of a big mass of uranium from the bowels of the earth.

    Have we anything else to choose from? It appears that we have. We have a whole range of energy sources which we don’t have to extract from the earth and which produce no contamination at all! The so called renewable energy of sun, wind, waves – we have abundance of it, an endless unlimited amount.

    In fact, we already have an acting nuclear reactor of the Sun at our disposal. Compared to what we can build on Earth, this reactor doesn’t take anything from us. The Sun is just generously giving us as much energy as we can accept.

    Taking solar energy into consideration – let us imagine for a moment that we invested in covering roofs with solar cells and transforming solar energy into electricity. Then everyone has a safe permanent source of energy. No blackouts, no catastrophes, no dependence on a far away source! Quite the reverse – the remaining energy can be given away to others, into the communal stores – we can share it! Australians we will not be the first ones in the world to do this. Not the first ones, but perhaps having the biggest uninterrupted supply of solar energy!

    Why don’t we clap our hands and hurry to start working in this direction: to invest in new and improved technologies and building projects based on the renewable energy? It seems that we are not prepared mentally to accept the fact that the future which we are asking about will be different from what we are used to now. That energy can become free and no longer be subject to profits and taxes! That economy will use criteria based on health and harmony for our planet and every one of its inhabitants rather than on profit for few and suffering for many!

    So, the answer to the question about our future depends on us – on our ability to change, to accept and adopt new ideas and ways, and to turn these ideas into the practice of our daily life.