Open Future ImageAppropriate Technology
The economist E.F. Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful, which explained the concept of appropriate technology. Today we need energy saving, materials recycling and waste minimisation.

Technology as a Resource

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Life with the Jetsons

Fantastic Future CityWhen I was a high school, in the 1960s we expected that one day we would live in a highly technological society, with personal flying machines, rapid public transport, moving walkways, totally enclosed and human habitats, and living on the Moon or on Mars seemed to be the sort of thing that would be doable. We believed that everything was possible. It seemed that there were no limits to what the human imagination could create and to what people could achieve with commitment and effort.

Saving the Earth

Today we understand that with the present Local File population on Earth and the technology we have developed, human pressure on the environment and on resources is causing severe problems. Forty years ago we didn't have that knowledge. We now know that if we don't restrain human activities so that the natural environment remains healthy, and diverse, and wide-spread, we run the risk of reaching a tipping point were the laws of nature bite back. In fact www link nine such tipping points have been identified and three of those seem to be in the critical area already.

The transition to www link a low carbon economy makes sense because it opens up new business opportunities, offers sustainable jobs and creates competitive advantages. In addition we improve public health, create more reliable eco-services, and improve national security.

The Great Transition

To successfully Local File transition to a sustainable world, we will need to invest vast sums over many decades. The full power of the economy needs to be engaged. Governments and business groups need to work together. If governments have the courage to remedy market failures and to introduce practical signal prices for the use of the environment, and for social costs, much can be done to improve government revenues, and perhaps to reduce taxation on incomes earned. Local linkRight prices would encourage a switch to green technologies without the need for subsidies. The switch would also occur with less regulation and would happen more rapidly if it was price driven. Subsidies are an inefficient way to drive the necessary switch to green technologies.

Technical Solutions

www link The world needs a new industrial revolution, not just in the rich world, but everywhere. As least developed countries begin to industrialise they need to adopt the cleanest technology, so that they don't add too much load to the existing environmental problems. A low cost technological solution to www link carbon capture and storage is desirable but cannot be relied on. An ancient technology, the making of charcoal and incorporating it into the soil is a possible low technology method (biochar), which might be practical in some regions. However, the best solution is to live a lifestyle that uses far less fossil fuel, less oil, less gas, and no coal if possible. To do that we need to rebuild our cities and our workplace's and our transportation systems.

Since the energy use of buildings is very high, building to make the best use of passive solar heat, makes a lot of sense. Very few of the standard homes we are building use that design principle. We are building homes with more insulation, and with better weather protection, but the design standard of our buildings is far behind what is desirable, if the future cost of energy is considered.

Fossil Fuel Trap

The world is 78% reliant on fossil fuels. This is the root of many of the world's environmental problems. Our wealth is created largely by using the energy from the sun that was stored in the ground millions of years ago. As that energy was stored, carbon was removed from the atmosphere and put safely underground. For the last 200 years, but particularly in the last 50 years we've been reversing that process releasing into the atmosphere about a million years of naturally stored carbon every year. If we are to have a sustainable planet almost all of that fossil fuel use has to STOP. The sooner the better. Because of absolute shortage, the oil problem is likely to resolve itself, sooner rather than later. Open Future™ expects the exploitation of Canadian Tar Sands in Alberta will be banned by international treaty within a few years. We expect that the world will also come to agreement to stop the mining of coal. If we don't do these things the climate of the Earth will be so altered that the survival of mankind in substantial numbers is doubtful. We do have a choice.


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