By Lance Glasser, Guest Author
I am occasionally asked by friends about prospects for all sorts of “green” technologies to have an impact on satisfying the world’s energy consumption. It is difficult to get ones mind around the scale of the problem but there have been some pretty good attempts, which are referenced in the full article.
To these quantitative analyses I want to add a test that any layperson can use to sort out plausible new energy technologies from the implausible. That test is a test of poetry.
Another way to bring thoughts about alternative technologies down to a human scale is to realize that if any of these technologies are to make numerically significant impact feeding the world’s voracious energy usage, that technology must be describable as both “unrelenting” and “awesome.” Unrelenting like a major river fed from an unquenchable source. Relentless like the sun beating down through cloudless desert sky. Unstoppable like the decay of a radioactive isotope with a 10,000-year half-life.
It must also be awesome on a human scale. Awesome like the visceral feel-it-in-your-gut roar of a massive river cascading down the canyon. Overwhelming like the blistering sun scorching a desert one cannot walk across in days.
If the technology is too tame, too gentle, to be described with poetic words such as awe-inspiring, never-ending, unrelenting, gargantuan, overwhelming, and even terrible; if the phenomenon does not make you feel insignificant, then sadly it too is too insignificant to quench our monstrous energy appetite.
Thus many a new energy pretender can be dismissed by its lack of poetry.