The author lives in Goleta.
In response to the young people protesting climate change, and noting that they are blaming the adult world for stealing “my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” I’d like respond:
Empty words? You seem to think that if you yell loud enough and protest loud enough, that nations can somehow magically change their dependence on fossil fuels for energy and avert the perceived environmental crisis climatologists think is coming.
Let me try to inject some reality into this perception. I know this is nearly impossible, and any attempt to do so is pretty much a wasted effort and falls on deaf ears. However…
The world gave up its opportunity a decade ago to become fossil fuel independent when it abandoned nuclear energy. Nuclear power provides more energy than all the fossil fuels in the ground can possibly provide (and I’m not going to cite statistics on this; I think they are there for anyone to look up), but the paranoid public (translated, environmentalists) shut it down, because of two accidents (which were contained) and the problem of waste disposal, for which solutions were being sought and offered, such as burying it deep in the ground in stable rock formations. However the world, at least America, rejected it, so now we are left with fossil fuels.
Scratch that alternative.
Wind power and solar power are proposed as possibilities, in spite of the fact that these are inadequate to providing more than 10 percent of civilization’s needs. Alternative energy activists refuse to acknowledge this and behave as if we can entirely abandon fossil fuels in favor of them, disregarding the obvious fact that if they could replace fossil fuels as a source, they would have by now (without government help).
So here’s my injection of reality, kids. Please try it for a day, and if you like it, extend it for a week, then a month, a year, and then permanently.
Go without any transportation or device that requires power from fossil fuels. Go without your school bus to get to school, your parents’ car to get you to sports practice and games. Give up your cell phone, which requires fossil fuel energy to manufacture batteries and produce the plastic casing and circuit boards necessary to function. Go without computers and your 85-inch TV. Turn off all lights, air conditioning and the refrigerator. No cooking with electric or gas stoves, and no heating in the winter. Demand that your school do the same. Then, make your own clothes from, well, what? All the cloth that goes into clothing is manufactured by means of fossil fuel energy, including those designer shoes you feel you deserve.
And it goes without saying: walk or ride a bicycle at all times. Insist that your parents do the same, regardless of the fact it may take them a week to get to work. But if they can’t do it, and can’t provide you with the things you need for a fulfilling your childhood, don’t worry. You can live outdoors in a cardboard box. No, wait, that requires fossil fuels to manufacture too, and requires cutting down carbon dioxide-absorbing trees. (And stop using cardboard boxes and colored pens to make protest signs. Both require fossil fuel energy for manufacture).
After you have done all this — eschewed all machines and devices that derive energy from fossil fuels — then come back and protest. I’m sure the fossil fuel-addicted adult generation, which is depriving you of a pleasant childhood, will be glad to listen. Use your prodigious brain power and your education to propose realistic alternative energy solutions.
In 10 years, maybe there will be a realistic alternative. I’m thinking fusion power, which would more than solve the world’s energy problems without producing polluting waste. Until then, please enjoy freezing in the dark and a life in stone age conditions. This can be your contribution toward freeing the nations from their evil dependency on fossil fuels and refusal to provide you with a fulfilling childhood.