One Nutter Saves the World: End the Steam Age

I know what you’re thinking: Nutter, you outrageously good writer, we’ve been out of the Steam Age since electricity became a thing.

One Nutter Saves the World: End the Steam Age

I know what you're thinking: Nutter, you outrageously good writer, we've been out of the Steam Age since electricity became a thing. Well, such is not the case. A majority of our electricity comes from using steam to turn turbines and in order to make that steam - we dig up a whole bunch of stuff that should probably stay in the ground.

I'm not just talking about coal. I'm also referencing uranium and thorium - two relatively rare things to find in the surface of the Earth.

You know, there's a lot of people who think nuclear power is going to save the world, but I have my doubts. For one, it's exchanging one method of generating steam from the other. For two... the supply of the fuel is pretty darn scarce, even if we beat all our nukes into power-generating ploughshares, that's still not enough to last for very long.

Cleanup after coal power is twenty to fifty years of planting trees. Cleanup after nuclear power is closer to two thousand years of planting sunflowers just to get it to the point where the people who live there aren't in a cancer cluster any more. Radiation is a bitch, folks.

So what's the solution?

Stop. Making. Steam.

We've been dependent on steam power in one form or another since Thomas Savery implemented a means of pumping water out of coal mines in 1698. Sixteen. Ninety-eight. We've been slaves to steam for over three hundred years, folks. No wonder so many people think that steam by other, rarer sources is the only way we can survive.

Also it's therefore no surprise that the mining industries really want to keep onto their government kickbacks 'job creation' by complaining about the livelihoods of the people who apparently know nothing better than digging up rocks for a living. Pretty certain that, if you asked them, the people at the -ha- coalface would much rather be doing literally anything other than digging up rocks.

Give them a choice between digging up rocks that can destroy their lungs, digging up rocks that can destroy their genes, or any other given occupation... I'm moderately certain they'd pick option C. Those who haven't been taught that the world is full of other opportunities, anyway. There's unscrupulous people who will tell trapped people that their only option is to remain trapped.

People say that wind turbines are ugly and steal jobs from honest people (those who insist this are not honest ISTG) but they don't count on the clever ways that alternative energy could be used.

#1 - Offshore Wind Farms

The technology already exists to put wind farms offshore. There is a perfect place that just about never has a calm day. It's famous for having a lot of wind. It's called The Roaring Forties. It's constantly got strong wind and they've been using it since the days of sail.

Yes, I know about the three centuries of steam some paragraphs earlier, but this is technically an infinite resource that is ready to use whenever anyone likes. We hardly use sails any more, but we can use a heckload of windmills. For those complaining about the maintenance - what about all those jobs those windmills create? Suddenly not good enough now that you're not making a profit out of them?

Yeah, I thought so. They don't care about the jobs, they care about the income.

#2 - Desert Solar Farms

So we have these vast, barren stretches of land that - when not nature reserves - are just sitting there un-used and un-useful. Deserts, right? Not a lot in them, but you get absolute loads of sunshine. You can power the entire world with a relatively small area of solar panels in the Sahara. It's not that big a deal.

There's farmers in Australia who use solar farms in their fields as an insurance - making money twice out of the same patch of land - and it turns out that some wild solar panels in your lawn help keep some of the grass alive and provide some shade for the livestock. Amazing.

If we could do that anywhere that's famously dry and arid - without destroying the interesting stuff already there - this would be pure bonus. That, and solar farms don't need a lot in the way of upkeep.

#3 - Cities as Generators

Cities - especially cities with a lot of skyscrapers - have a wind problem. They have a sun problem. How about we make those not a problem but a resource?

Small wind farms in the wind tunnels. Solar-collecting windows. These things are ready to exist right now and though solar roadways are currently a bust, we could probably conceive a peizo-electric deal to make something out of the constant flow of traffic, foot and vehicle, that goes through every town.

Every little bit counts.

It's not hard to go solarpunk and have a world full of cleaner technology. We can wean ourselves off of steam. I believe in us.

For the rare few who believe that mining is the only way to exist - there's other limited resources underground so those peeps can keep their jobs. It's not impossible.

Just really, really difficult.

Next time: Let's End Poverty!