We Can Change Our Future!
The Sustainable Energy Revolution
Starting in 2020, there was a quiet revolution in home and business energy production, as many realized we could just change that ourselves, instead of waiting for utilities. Rather than evaluate financial returns of some investment in green solar, wind or other energy by how quickly it would pay back, or what its financial returns would be, as with most other financial investments, we shifted our thinking.
We figured out we could simply borrow the money for those investments, which banks were happy to do with good terms because they were well secured by property values the investment increases, and keep paying the same amounts. All we had to do was make sure that the loan terms created payments no more than we were already paying for dirty and harmful electricity. Then, we get clean electrons right away, pay no more than we do already, and forget about how long it takes to pay back.
For example, homeowners had been unwilling to invest $20,000 in rooftop solar gear with a 30-year expected life that took 15 years to pay back, because we could invest that money elsewhere and get higher returns, like paybacks of 7 or 8 years. After the thought shift, we were happy to borrow $20,000, which banks were happy to lend, deploy rooftop solar or other clean electricity means right away, mostly creating independence from dirty electric grids, pay exactly what we paid before, so we were no worse off financially, and after 15 years electricity would be free for 15 years. That was a no-brainer.
That simple shift in thinking caused revolutionary changes in our home and business energy production. It suddenly made sense to almost everyone, and almost everyone started doing it. That created high demand for solar, wind and water turbine technologies, and investment in those technologies and increased innovation and evolution in those technologies, which quickly drove costs down cost curves, making them even more affordable. In less than 10 years, virtually all home energy was green and locally produced, making electric grids more efficient and resilient, mostly just mechanisms for sharing or backup. This simple shift was attributed to changed values and principles at work in people’s lives.
Communities and local governments had similar thinking shifts. Santa Francesca, California figured out it could count on and use power from tides moving through the Golden Gateway in and out of the bay to produce big supplies of green energy. Massive water turbines were installed in the mouth of the bay that rotate to use both incoming and outgoing tides to produce most of the energy needed in and near the city, outside the home and business green energy revolution. Other cities produced similar systems.
Off-shore and on-shore wind energy is now common. Off-shore wind energy systems locate windmills on fixed or floating platforms, where nothing impedes wind flows. Those windmills produce electricity. A breakthrough developed in Denmark reduced costs further by locating windmills on offshore barges anchored to sea floors. The lift on the barges from rising tides provides energy to turn turbines in the bodies of the barges to produce additional electricity, increasing yields, efficiencies and returns.
The green energy revolution included technological developments in micro wind and water turbines. Small fans arranged in a variety of configurations create micro arrays that produce reliable green energy. Skyscrapers are now commonly largely covered in them, reducing the sunlight that penetrates glass to reduce cooling energy needs, and often powering at least that building itself. These are often done in beautiful and artistic designs, with super-efficient LED lighting, creating colorful, artistic, changing and often mesmerizing patterns of light. Rooftop gardens are now standard, as are window-boxes planted with beautiful flowers, plants and vines. Air circulation systems in buildings scrub dirty air from outside.
Other technological breakthroughs have also greatly improved building efficiencies, through things like improved insulation, energy efficient lighting, smart building technologies that turn lights and other electricity consuming devices on and off, so they only use electricity when they are really needed. Efficient methods have been developed and deployed to dig deep holes at the bases of buildings for passive heat exchange systems that regulate building temperatures by flowing air through the ground, where temperatures are stable year-round. These radically reduce energy needs for heating or cooling.
City buildings are now reminiscent of stories of the hanging gardens of Babbelon, net ecological gains.
In the mid-2020s, catastrophic health and environmental impacts resulting from the Fukusinas nuclear power plant disaster became known to the public. Those had been suppressed from public knowledge, but horrific illnesses originating from radioactive waste leaking from the site became indisputable. A twenty-mile radius around the site was ultimately evacuated, and is still off limits to humans in 2060. It’s estimated the loss of property, health and life in Japan alone far exceeded $1 trillion in damages. The impacts on Pacific Ocean life support systems and food webs are incalculable, affecting the entire Pacific Ocean north of the equator, from Japan to California. Images of “Frankenstein fish” horrified us.
A terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant outside Poiris, France produced true terror throughout Europe and around the world in 2025. A bomb penetrated the plant through a water intake system, and the explosion breached containment systems around the fission core zone. Control systems were damaged in the explosion, and it was a harrowing few months as teams from around the world battled to save Poiris, which was overcome with fear and chaos as the entire city was methodically evacuated. This was a nail-biting horror for the entire world, and when this disaster was finally narrowly contained, a global movement to ban nuclear energy erupted, with great outcry and furor.
A group of Sourbonbon academics calculated that, even if nuclear power plants could be run with a guarantee of safety, it would cost more than the value of the entire national economy for decades to truly guarantee that radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants would be safe from release into living system environments for the hundreds of thousands of years it was still dangerous to life.
Even then, there was no guarantee of future safety against radiation poisoning. They crafted a business case proving: including costs to secure radioactive waste from release during its period of danger to life, nuclear energy was not cost effective for any society relative to any other source of energy, but particularly relative to clean energy produced by sun, wind and water. By 2027, most nations on Earth had signed a global agreement to end nuclear energy production, except for science research. By 2031, all nations were party to that agreement, all nuclear power plants had been decommissioned, and most nations had eliminated nuclear weapons. The value of the relief from fear and anxiety was incalculable.
In 2050, we finally came up with a possible solution for existing nuclear waste, burying it miles underground in a facility it cost a trillion dollars to build and relocate nuclear waste to, which was only possible with the cooperation and contributions of dozens of nations. We pray that solution is sound.
By 2032, no nation produced electricity through the burning of coal or oil. It simply wasn’t necessary, and people didn’t want it. Today, in 2060, clean electricity is taken for granted. It’s produced so abundantly and cheaply from clean and green sources that it is available to anyone anywhere at almost no incremental cost to end users. In fact, there is an overcapacity of clean and green electricity used to produce hydrogen at little incremental cost, and that hydrogen and green electricity stored in vastly more efficient batteries are used to power almost all vehicles, on land, air and water. We no longer burn fossil fuels or any fuels produced from biomass (ethanol or biodiesel) for vehicles.
Green electricity from solar, wind and water is so cheap and pervasive, that we increasingly have chosen to disassemble dams previously used for hydroelectricity as they reached the ends of their useful lives. This has restored river systems, and produced a wide variety of unforeseen environmental benefits, including virtuous changes to rain and weather systems, soils, forests, plant and wildlife communities, huge reductions in methane emissions from dammed reservoirs, and recovery of cultural heritage sites, as in Egypt, where the Nyle is again allowed to flood seasonally, radically improving the health and productivity of lands there, and lives of beings dependent on them. Egypt easily feeds itself now.
Inexpensive green electricity from solar, wind and water has also allowed us to eliminate natural gas, previously used for heating, cooking and electricity production. There is no more fracking, and there are no more gas pipelines or gas distribution networks, or environmental harms from that. Pipes that had been used for natural gas delivery were used instead to replace previously above-ground electrical and communication wire infrastructure that was on ugly utility poles. Basically, we figured out how to blow darts down those pipes trailing strong monofilament fiber. That fiber was used to pull thicker pull-wires.
Those thicker pull-wires were used to pull high-quality, shielded copper cables for electricity and shielded fiber optic cable bundles for communication services directly into homes and businesses, without having to dig up many streets or do other disruptive demolition or construction. That has enabled a wholesale replacement of electricity and communications distribution wiring networks, upgrading them to much better performance, with virtually infinite bandwidth for telecommunications. It has allowed us to take down ugly above-ground utility poles and wiring all over the country, and it has eliminated problems with electricity infrastructure sparking fires, and devastating consequences of that.
We no longer need to mine, transport or burn coal, anywhere, so we don’t. That has eliminated environmental disasters from mountaintop and surface mining, great harms to miner health from underground mining, energy consumption for coal transport, and acid rains, ash, SO2, NOx, CO2, mercury, heavy metal and other dangerous and harmful pollution from coal burning.
Waterways and fish and aquacultures have recovered all over the world, forest and soils are healthier, all life populations are healthier, and a frightening global climate crisis we were on the very threshold of not being able to stop or recover from has been mostly averted, largely as a result of these changes in how we produce, consume, store and share energy.
Oil and gas companies basically no longer exist. Their poisonous and harmful refineries, pipelines, wells, burn-offs, spills, disasters, petrochemical plants, shale excavation sites, storage facilities, fracking sites, oil tankers and other tools and infrastructure have been decommissioned, dismantled and disappeared. That is a primary factor in our salvation from harms from existentially threatening global climate change, public health disasters from chemical poisons in petrochemical products and toxins in our homes, businesses and environments, and harms from agricultural uses of petrochemicals. Plastics are illegal.
We proved massive public influencing campaigns wrong. It took 3 decades, but we got off of petroleum, coal, natural gas, hydrocarbon gases, nuclear energy, most hydroelectricity, coal and many biofuels, replaced with clean power produced by harvesting natural power for solar, wind and water energy.
Interestingly, this did not threaten and harm jobs and livelihoods. Far from it. These changes were primary drivers of a massive economic boom that drove new industries and jobs, providing a period of great prosperity. Some previously existing energy companies changed and were a big part of that. Others resisted and fought change, failed and were eliminated.
Electricity utility networks are now largely used to balance loads and supplement temporary needs in local distribution systems. There is little need for long-distance electricity transmission networks, because most electricity is produced close to where it is consumed. Look back on it with sighs of relief!
Contribute information, articles, comments, suggestions, ideas and discussion on this chapter.
How do you feel after reading this information? Why do you feel that? What values are impacted? How can we change? What can we do? Where can we get more information? (Please submit any discussion on the entire We Can Change Our Future! section here.)
Please provide only constructively intended interactions addressing ideas and content, not persons. All mean-spirited interactions will be deleted, especially anything disrespectful directed toward persons interacting with this site and their qualities, rather than ideas and content. Thanks!