People are looking for perfect solutions, but they’re not going to find them. Waiting for the perfect fix is the same as doing nothing. Let's not wait.
Your main point that waiting for the perfect solution is the same as doing nothing is spot on.
>There were slim pickings for ‘meat substitutes’, and those that existed tasted like rubber.
Hey! They weren't all that bad! We had different friends who substituted Gimme Lean Ground Beef for their family's taco night, and no one ever noticed!
But thanks so very, very much for this article and for all your work. <3
I love how you put links to the sources of your claims. Its super helpful and shows a lot of professionalism
THANK YOU for writing this. There always seems to be counter-arguments and roadblocks for solutions that we know will improve the way we live and alleviate the big problems ahead of us. “Waiting for the perfect solution is the same as doing nothing”, you put it perfectly.
Just quoted you in my weekly newsletter :) https://breakingwhitesilence.substack.com/p/breaking-white-silence-newsletter-158?sd=pf
Wonderful piece. Resonates so much with what we’re seeing in Europe sometimes. Thanks for putting this out!
While some of the folks on the left are waiting for the perfect solution, which is fast becoming a Samuel Beckett play, the right cynically uses imperfection as a way to slow down the transition to a decarbonized world. As you point out, all the environmental issues need to be dealt with in a sustainable way in parallel to the main goal of moving to a carbonless world. There will be mistakes and problems. The press loves to pick up on any problems as they perceive that there is an audience for negativity regarding clean energy options. For example, if a Tesla catches fire it goes viral. Having once driven a Pinto (young people will have to look this up) I am well aware of the dangers of gasoline powered vehicles. Whenever you have a dense source of energy you have the potential for a fire or explosion.
Typo: "This emits CO₂ unless it doesn’t come from low-carbon sources"
Great article! Thank you for laying out a moving argument for action now and reminding readers not to wait for perfection.
I fully agree with the article with respect to nuclear power. However using intermittent renewables like solar and wind for grid electricity is a terrible way to reduce emissions. Apart from their huge environmental footprint, far greater than natural gas, they impose huge costs on electricity consumers because balancing them is so costly. That is why electricity prices ALWAYS rise when connecting renewables to the grid. This problem would remain even if they cost nothing to install. Batteries are still at least 100 times to expensive to be a viable way of dealing with intermittency. Hydrogen synthesis may be feasible but remains very expensive and unproven. So while we install more solar and wind we are forced to maintain the same level of dispatch-able generating capacity because solar and wind can provide no electricity for weeks at a time. Ramping up dispatch-able power sources forces them to function in a far less efficient way. So it is irrational to use solar and wind to power the grid. At best it allows a modest reduction in emission at an enormous cost to consumers and the environment.
Increasing the cost of electricity creates energy poverty which kills people.
Yes, I think I could name a few: we can't have hydrogen passenger vehicles because they are 'inefficient'. We can't use blue hydrogen for industry, heating or power because >95% carbon capture rates are not good enough, and it sends 'the wrong signal'. We can't use curtailed renewables to produce hydrogen because there is a risk that electrolysers will use fossil power from the grid (there is no chance of this happening, because it makes no economic sense).
If we look at the situation for what it is, many people are unable to get out of the concept that 'electrifying everything' is a plausible and realistic ambition, despite the reality that electricity grid operators keep trying to explain it will never work.
Yes, different geographies have different priorities - but I think the wholesale assault on hydrogen that characterises our failing progress should be reconsidered and perhaps not put in the box of 'the perfect being the enemy of the good' but in fact just what it is: ideological bias, promoted by people with various agendas intent on stalling the real progress necessary.
My book, 'Planet Zero Carbon - A Policy Playbook for the Energy Transition' is available on Amazon
I love the sentiment here!
I see it a little different though.
Sometimes, the criticisms of alternatives are actually presented loudest by... The status quos winners. It's often defenders of fossil fuel cars who criticise electric cars for their energy consumption and the materials needed for the batteries (ignoring the materials needed for fossil fuel cars!), as a way to discredit the alternatives.
However, we should also remember pathway dependency -if we focus on replacing every ICE car with an electric one, we won't solve the problems, but we will be stuck with a massive e-car industry and lobby group, rather than transforming transport towards more public transport and biking, with less energy intensive transport.
Well said, and true of so many urgent needs. The homeless crisis in my town springs to mind. The various stakeholders get so bogged down in arguing the myriad reasons why an approach is wrong, or incomplete, that we end up doing nothing much but handing out tents...and then doing tent sweeps.
Nuclear power arguably may be safe. But the power produced is simply not affordable. Furthermore, the plants take a decade or more to build, and cost overruns are huge and common. For example, the Financial Times' Lex column, Nov. 5, 2022. notes that UK nuclear power in 2040 is projected to cost L96/ MWh , while offshore wind plus storage at that date will be at L68/MHw (29% lower cost). See Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle, Finland's Olkiluoto 3 (12 years late and $11 billion vs $3 billion budgeted), and UK's Hinkley Point.
We agree perfection shouldn't be the enemy of progress.
We just think that the same should apply to advanced nuclear power for electricity generation.