The solution to intermittency in solar and wind power

May 9, 2021 by Joshua
in Nature, Tips

Everyone knows we can’t use fossil fuels sustainably. The future means living without them.

But the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Fusion may never work. Fission has huge problems that its proponents downplay but never go away. I recommend Caltech-trained UCSD physics professor and podcast guest Tom Murphy‘s assessment in his recent book that does the math on nuclear’s challenges.

So what do we do if we don’t live near a place geothermal or hydroelectric work? The solution is obvious. I’m not saying it’s easy, though I will say if you do it the way I did, you’ll love the results.

Change your lifestyle. Reduce your demand overall and increase your resilience. Remember, most humans lived without electricity or power besides solar through eating plants and animals that ate plants for two hundred thousand years. Research shows they achieved greater longevity, health, equality, and stability than most people since we started using coal and fossil fuels in the Industrial Revolution, definitely since the Agricultural Revolution. I was surprised to learn it too.

One more thing helps: lead others to change their lifestyles too. Nobody needs to consume power or other resources that take power to create like Americans or probably anyone reading these words even if not American.

There is no mystery or doubt about the alternative, if we keep relying on fossil fuels until the biosphere is too polluted to support society: population collapse followed by people living in a polluted world. To clarify, population collapse means a large fraction of humans dying.

Remember how people and organizations benefiting from burning fossil fuels used to make up doubt about climate change and pollution? You don’t hear much from them now. They were wrong.

The solution is to change our lifestyles and lead others to change theirs. I’ve done it. It’s simple. It works. Don’t believe me? Here’s my latest electric bill. I used $1.40 in electrical power in a month (plus tax and $18.77 for connecting to the grid). And I’m willing to bet I’m as happy, healthy, and productive as anyone reading these words.

April ConEd

The two months before I used $1.70 each. I’m not special. I don’t even get economies of scale as I would if I lived with someone and could divide by two or three.

If all Americans lived closer to me than the American average, we could rely on only renewables now or at least sooner. Plus we’d be able to lead other nations toward sustainability. If you’re thinking, “I can’t do it,” you’re helping lead the world toward neediness, dependency, and collapse. You’re leading yourself there too.

When did we become so entitled? Wasn’t technology supposed to enable us, not cripple us?

Nobody is crying wolf

Remember the boy who cried wolf? Most people learn that complaining too much leads people to ignore you. They forget a couple things. First, the boy cried wolf when no wolf was there. Second, the wolf eventually came.

Well, no one is making up data. They’re presenting actual results, so they aren’t crying wolf. The wolf is here.

Examples of lifestyle change

Growing up in the past few generations means you’ll likely disbelieve that these suggestions will improve your life, but they will: avoid flying, avoid buying packaged food, avoid doof, drive less, never drink bottled water or soda again, don’t accept disposable anything from coffee cups to conference swag, dress warm in your place in the winter so you can keep your place to a lower temperature, dress cool in the summer and use a fan so you can keep your place to a higher temperature then, buy fewer clothes and ones that last, avoid meat, you know all this stuff.

What works most:

  • Have fewer kids
  • Support others to have smaller families
  • Learn leadership skills to lead others to stewardship

I’m not saying what’s good, bad, right, or wrong. I’m not saying what you should or shouldn’t do. I’ve read and understood the situation as my science and business experience allows and I’m saying what will prevent billions of people suffering. From my experience doing these things, I can say they will return your life and culture to simpler living. You’ll wish you had done it earlier.

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