8 October 1998

Roland Howerd, Oxford

If people only knew the half of it, they would be up in arms – wouldn’t they?

Environment is not just boring, its dead boring, and energy’s even worse. Compared with sex and money and rock music its about as exciting as picking a lump of chewing gum the size of Everest off a blanket the area of Australia. It’s so bloody boring.

Because energy and environment never rank highly in the population’s priority list, relatively little attention is paid to them by the media, politics and even education. This way we don’t develop the issues. We’re not interested. We don’t explore the possibilities. And we don’t begin to understand the options and opportunities. We just remain blissfully ignorant as we switch on the light, rev up the car, turn on the TV and consume energy in this way or that.

That’s all OK except that in the meantime vested interests have a field day. Oil companies, gas companies, mining conglomerates, power companies, stock brokers, bankers, governments, accountants, speculators, motor industries and the rest, carve out their piece of the pie and let rip with the environment. We, the people just slumber on. zzzzzzzz

So, why would we be up in arms? Well, not just because these vested interests are carving up beautiful Planet Earth without a care for anything except their own selfish financial and political power interests. We know that’s happening anyway. But because its totally unnecessary. It’s all for what? It’s all for nothing. We don’t have to desecrate the planet to keep warm or power our industries. We can collect our energy from renewable sources in even greater abundance than has ever been even dreamed of. But why don’t we, you may well ask? Because we are all so ignorant. We are so f***ing ignorant and those in control know it and are exploiting the fact, as they laugh all the way to their banks.

Strong language? Yes. But just in case anyone thinks: ah ha, communist twaddle - wrong! It’s not. Nor is it anti-capitalist, left wing or right wing for that matter. Its a technological approach. Scientific, practical and industrial criteria are being placed above mere politics and profiteering.

There are many intractable problems facing the world. Energy isn’t one of them though, for the solutions are readily available. However, the consequences of present energy production blur the issues and make the problems seem intractable. But they are not. At least not yet. They are, however, the consequences of ignorance. And it’s ignorance on our part, not the part of the exploiters. They know what they are doing. We don’t.

The reason why we should be up in arms is that we have been so misled. Our political and industrial leadership – on both sides of the divide – have, for decades now, falsely led us to believe that we have to maintain the "carbon economy" to sustain our way of life. By the early seventies it was clear to those who cared to take a look, to anyone interested enough to do only the minimum of research, that there was enough free energy to be harnessed, with technologies already innovated, to power our planet and our way of life. Much earlier than this, from the 1930s in fact, scientists like Richard Buckminster Fuller demonstrated the ability of humanity to forego fossil fuels and have an even higher standard of living.

That we have been so misled for so long and on so serious a matter is unforgivable. And yet it continues. That’s why we should be up in arms. To pollute and exploit this planet for the selfish interests of a minority, aided and abetted by the ignorant majority, is not simply the greedy ripping off the rest of us, its the gratuitous, needless, and heartless ripping off the planet itself. Given the scale of it, no greater Philistineism can be imagined.

Until we, the people, wise up and educate ourselves about the unnecessary, appalling destruction of the environment it will continue to rampage unabated. All the tinkering by politicians, all the public relations on the part of solar energy-promoting oil companies, will not only change nothing. Worse than that, the pretense of things being done will keep us nicely comatosed and complacent in blissful ignorance.

What are the dangers then?


That we are further deceived into complacency.

That we are given to believe that the energy issue cannot be easily solved. (This is achieved by lumping it in with other environmental issues which are impossible to solve.)

That we believe that the environmental lobby is going to change things.

That we believe the government is doing anything very much by setting up a Royal Commission to look into the replacement of fossil fuels. (Have you ever seen Yes Minister?).

That we believe that going to the bottle bank, recycling paper and using the bus instead of the car, etc., is making a serious contribution to the main issue, rather than making us feel better about the problem.

That we allow the establishment to colonialise radical environmentalism, bringing it to its bosom and emasculating it, in the way of all avant garde movements.

That we continue to understand environmentalism in the language of cutting back, rather than the language of positivism, optimism and the potential of fundamental plenty.

That this country – the birthplace of the industrial revolution – will miss the opportunity of becoming a world supplier of the new clean technologies that will power the world in the new century.

So folks, try and discover the innate genius within ourselves. The gift to explore and challenge; to see the world as it is - the watery sphere gliding around the galactic nebular. The water on earth is the only known quantity of water in the thus far discovered universe and our sun provides the energy to extract hydrogen gas from that water. When we burn the hydrogen in the atmosphere, for our heating, cooling, transport and industrial needs, the only bi-product is clean, pure water, H2O. This is no less than the magic equation, or even God’s equation, but humanity remains just too ignorant to grasp it. Perhaps its just too bloody obvious:

H2 + ŻO2 = H2O

Do you get it yet?

It’s what Fuller called "taking a look at the plumbing", the celestial plumbing, that is. Sometimes solutions to problems are so obvious, as they stare us in the face, that we just don’t see them. We don’t have to be scientists. We just have to stop and think it through for a few moments. This planet was provided with a plumbing system – called the weather – which is capable of providing all our needs, and more, without vile pollution, destruction and desecration.

The hydrogen revolution is no less significant than the discovery of fire or the innovation of agriculture. It can be our generation that finally makes the world work as it was designed to work, and for everyone. If this sounds utopian, just think about it. Explore the facts and research the solutions. Solutions which have been in the literature since before we were born.

The subject of energy might be boring at first sight, but it can be exciting when we uncover its potential. When we see that its not about cutting back but can be about having more, and more people having more who desperately need more. Action now can guarantee prosperity and a rich, clean, streamlined future.

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