Call for an Energy Solution Revolution: A Special Message for the Younger Generation
© Brian O'Leary, Ph.D, www.brianoleary.com
Presented to the United Nations Youth Assembly, August 15, 2007; Hiroshima Night, Bolinas, CA, August 6; Sivananda Yoga Farm, Grass Valley, CA, August 7; Conference on ETs, Spirit, New Science and New Technology, Mt. Shasta, CA, August 9-12; Sivananda Yoga Center, San Francisco, CA, August 12 *
“Our current generation is committing treason against future generations by destroying our global environment.”
In this speech, I depart from my usual professional restraint. I believe our dire situation calls for a much stronger expression.
Over the past 35 years I have researched both natural and breakthrough solutions for our sustainable survival. During the early years of my newly-found environmentalism, I became an advisor to presidential candidate Morris Udall and his U.S. House subcommittee on energy and the environment. We exposed the dangers of nuclear power and the merits of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency.
I was somewhat older then than you are now. I was idealistic and took to heart these warnings of the late great environmental thinkers I just quoted. They even inspired me to change careers at that time.
I’m sorry to say, things have only gotten much worse since then. I’m sorry to report that the state of the world you are inheriting is poised for utter destruction, largely because of the neglects of powerful people in my generation. Like a frog in a pot of water whose temperature is slightly raised every day until the water boils, our home planet is reaching the boiling point. I’m sorry we handed you such a mess.
The good news is, the solutions are there, waiting in the wings to bring forward now. The bad news is, they have been suppressed by the most destructive empire in world history.
For example, I have traveled the world and visited some of the most promising demonstrations of “solution” energy technologies that could provide us with a quantum leap in our ability to have clean, cheap and decentralized energy in the near future (e.g., vacuum energy, cold fusion and advanced hydrogen and water chemistries). I have also discovered that many of these courageous inventors have been isolated, threatened and sometimes assassinated.
By “solution energy”, what we really mean is making wise choices from among a wide range of nonpolluting options, free of vested interests. I believe that breakthrough, or new, energy is by far our most promising solution energy. As a default, we should also consider the cleanest possible blend of traditional renewables, such as solar, wind, tides, waves and hydrogen fuels provided from these sources.
As my research deepened, thus revealing what we must do to sustain ourselves physically, so too our social, academic, political and economic organizations have solidified themselves into a resistance so strong, we cannot seem to get off the train that is hurtling towards sure disaster.
When ordinary, moral and innovative people weren’t looking, our beloved republic-turned-protofascist superpower has sunk into a morass of a criminal executive, a supine Congress, a corrupted judiciary, a bought-out media and an allowing public, collectively bent on totalitarian genocide and ecocide rather than embracing true solutions.
We cannot, will not, allow this to happen any longer. The perpetrators must be removed from power. And the whole structure of our decayed system must be revitalized in positive directions. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and international charters, conventions and treaties must be restored and re-invigorated.
In the U.S. we need a revolution, a non-violent one. Citizens will need to hit the streets in large numbers demanding change. A new American Revolution has been long in coming, with warning signs coming from so many presidents and others for more than two centuries of a gathering storm that is reaching a climax now.
But how can we have a revolution if so few of us show up for it? On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, I spoke at a peace-and-truth rally in front of the White House. Barely thirty non-violent demonstrators marched and gathered around the podium, while two snipers prowled across the White House roof. It was a nice day to come out, yet only one American in ten million joined our motley crew. Why so few? Do we care?
If this were Latin America, millions of people by now would be jamming Washington and banging pots on a constant vigil to demand the resignations of the president and his peers—until they leave. But not in the United States we have now. Whatever has happened to the kind of activism we have seen in the courageous leadership of a Patrick Henry or a Martin Luther King? In the absence of correct government behavior, the people have no choice but to take to the streets and stay there until we have the needed results.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. It can only die if we sit on the sidelines.
I am also astounded that President Eisenhower’s 1961 warning about the severe consequences of the buildup of a military-industrial complex has gone unheeded. Now, almost fifty years later, this awesome power has become much further institutionalized and centralized into a hydra-headed beast opposed to all life on Earth—except for their own lives. Only we the people can remove this power and take control of our collective destiny.
But the crisis also presents opportunities we may have never imagined. First, though, we must clear the way by once again declaring our independence from King George and his cronies in power. We must impeach, remove, and convict them. We must throw their tea overboard if they don’t slink away peacefully.
The reckless actions of the Bush administration are sealing the fate of an entire planet—unless we have the courage to stand up and say “NO”. It’s our time to re-create our republic, it’s our time to invite the world to join us in a new republic whose goals are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A peaceful, sustainable, just future.
Our top priority is to demand the resignations of BushCo, or that Congress should impeach the wrongdoers. Now. This is an essential first step towards restoring Constitutional government. All of us here should insist that impeachment be put back “on the table.” Congress has not yet put it “on the table” because of their fears that the table which also supports their own careers might collapse from under them. What a rickety, corrupt “table” this is.
The only items now “on he table” are those that our dictators have piled up for us, a bill your generation will have to pay. Within this young century alone, that bill is greater than a trillion dollars more of weapons on Earth and planned for space, a trillion dollars more for illegal, immoral and preemptive wars in distant lands, a trillion dollars more for oil profits, a trillion dollars more in the pockets of cronies and speculators, a trillion dollars more of national debt, a trillion dollars more for the anti-Muslim lobbies, a trillion dollars more for the legal and illegal drug trade, and so on.
The new table we must take out of the closet is really a hearty old table that needs dusting off. It is the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, which have helped make our republic survive for this long. The Constitution is endangered by a tyranny so great, it is hard to imagine the consequences: the wanton environmental destruction, the unrestrained torture, the suspension of habeas corpus, the unprovoked wars of conquest and resource exploitation abroad; and the fixed elections and the potential for martial law and a police state dictatorship at home. Meanwhile, we only seem to hear imperial lies, lies and more lies, dutifully reported by a propagandistic media.
Our time calls for a number of systemic actions even beyond a cleaning out of those who have betrayed their oaths of office. It is a call for a restoration of proper vision.
Al Gore has recently given those of us in the industrialized world a mandate that he and many leading climate scientists feel will be necessary for our survival: act radically within ten years, leading to a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of more than 90% by 2050. As an atmospheric scientist myself, I agree with that mandate, and I also believe that the solutions will come from outside the box of our retrogressive thinking.
But we need more: a restoration of truth in our public discourse. For only the truth can set us free from the tyranny that so imprisons us. We need to look squarely again at 9/11 truth, at depleted uranium truth, at war pretext truth, at torture truth, at electoral fraud truth, at solution energy truth, at UFO/ET truth, and all the other truths that our cancerous tyranny is trying to destroy.
And we will need to reconcile all these truths, which are as self-evident as they were when we declared our independence 232 years ago. We must eventually reconcile ourselves with ourselves and with the natural world. We Americans must apologize to the rest of the world for our aggressions and neglects.
As an elder American citizen, I owe you two apologies, generational and global, for the transgressions committed by some of my peers.
We can set goals, cajole governments and create NGOs geared towards peace, sustainability and justice. But we can never get close to achieving those goals by these modest approaches alone. The imperial system with its war machine can overwhelm the efforts of even the best-intentioned individuals and groups.
Our activism needs to go beyond our own parochial issues, which are based more on personal recognition, careers, advancement and the temptations of money. Albert Einstein said, “Try to become not a man of success, but try rather to become a man of value.” This becomes ever more evident as we organize ourselves and move into our higher collective purpose.
Our movements have become anemic, divided and conquered. We will need to ally our movements and declare those values that cut across all ethnic and interest groups, values that ring so true we cannot help but come on board. Values such as peace, sustainability, justice, freedom and equality for all.
But to achieve all this, we must go beyond declaring our independence from King George. We must declare our interdependence with each other and with all of nature in the Global Village. We must declare ourselves a sovereign world community comprised of an alliance of movements of various ethnic and religious identities who have a common and abiding interest in survival and good health. We must force our governments to serve us, not the other way around.
But we must do more than apologize. We Americans must also come together as never before with our brothers and sisters in all nations and collaborate, transforming American imperialism into a new intitiative as a “global green republic” that embraces the higher purposes we all so yearn for.
To help facilitate the restoration of world peace and sustainability, my wife Meredith and I have moved to the Andes of Ecuador and have built a retreat and nature center, Montesueños (Mountain Dreams). Here we have found fertile soil to co-create with nature and other kindred spirits a prototype community for what-could-be locally and globally, far from the fears and distractions of a world gone mad. Our goals are world peace, sustainability and justice, our mission is research, education and action. Our values are truth, beauty, love.
We have found harmony here in Latin America as a crucible for new ideas, clear vision and radical social change. For example, we are working with the government of Ecuador to save the one-million-hectare Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse rain-forests on Earth, housing voluntarily isolated indigenous tribes and a superb botanical carbon dioxide sink. The Yasuni National Park also sits over a billion barrels of heavy crude oil, whose $30 billion extraction would ruin this precious Amazonian ecosystem. The thirst for petroleum is so overwhelming that the Bush government is pressuring Ecuadorian president Correa to let us destroy this spectacularly beautiful park even though the oil there would only provide twelve days of supply for a ravenous world!
No one issue compels our desire to embrace these new structures more than the possibility of a revolution in our energy policy. After a lifetime of study, I am convinced everyone in the world can have clean, cheap, safe, decentralized energy, water, food and a healthy environment. I am also convinced we can preserve our forests, wetlands, oceans, biodiversity, cultural identities, food and water supply.
But we cannot do so under the boot of a voracious “corporatocracy” bent on destroying our precious Earth habitat for their own selfish gain. I don’t think I need to present the obvious statistics to prove my point.
It is essential to our survival that we openly examine the implications of having breakthrough new energy as one mega-solution to our crisis. We should create a forum for discussing this very real possibility, free from the shackles of suppression by those in control, unwittingly allied with an irrational scientific censorship. We must get beyond their debunking us as “pseudo-scientists” and “conspiracy theorists”. The onus is on them, not on us, to try to demonstrate a negative. We’re free to proceed, bearing in mind that the coveted “laws” of science are really only theories.
Let’s also go beyond the focus on whether this gizmo or that gizmo will be the magic bullet or who will become the Bill Gates of new energy. Let’s think beyond looking just at the technologies themselves. We absolutely must examine the larger context: What kind of social system can facilitate this? What do these developments mean for our collective future?
Clearly, we cannot allow Cheney et al run this one too. When massive profit and exploitation are not in sight, they always have suppressed, and always will, suppress it as long as they remain in power. It is clear they are destroying the world with an energy policy that will go into infamy as the most biocidal catastrophe in human history—with the possible exception of nuclear war (including the ones now underway that use depleted uranium as a weapon; this is a disastrous cancer-inducing radioactive substance that will affect untold future generations, up to 4.5 billion years!). Such wars and energy policies must be stopped.
We must look towards a future that cannot or will not resemble the past if we are to heed Al Gore’s call for us to drastically reduce carbon emissions, if we are to reduce the perilous dangers of a nuclear energy economy, or if we are to lessen the extensive environmental impact of a biofuel economy that still emits CO2 and takes away from our forests and agriculture. Even if we create a “solartopia” or wind economy, these require massive infrastructure, and use a lot of valuable land and raw materials. Any sensible energy policy demands the broadest possible look at all alternatives, free of vested interests.
But the possibility of “solution energy” demands that we restore our democratic systems worldwide. It mandates social structures that can facilitate and regulate these technologies—if they are indeed found to be sufficiently clean and cheap—so they can become available to all of humanity. The main obstacle to a Solution Energy Age is a human question, not a technical one.
In summary, a solution energy revolution requires first a revolution overturning the actors and policies of our powerful and suppressive governments and corporations.
Short of divine intervention, we have no other choice but to act, if we are to survive this crisis. This goes beyond morality. It is necessary logic.
Humanity has moved nature to a tipping point, maybe beyond, according to leading atmospheric scientists and ecologists. Our current focus on fear and wars of conquest can only deepen the crisis. How we solve these problems demand of all of us the most revolutionary thinking and action we have ever dreamt of.
So let’s jump ahead to the year 2050. What kind of world will you be inheriting then? I can see two extreme possibilities: the one where we are now headed and the one in which we (you) take the reins of power and declare a solution energy future The first is a totalitarian world in which the last drops of oil are squeezed out of the rainforests of the Amazon, the tundra and waters of the Arctic, and the tar sands of Alberta. A world of mass migrations from inundated coastal cities, a world without icecaps and glaciers, a world in which jungles become deserts, a world with few fish, a world where, ironically, Europe is placed into a deep freeze by the shutting down of the Gulf Stream conveyor system. A world devoid of fresh drinking water except for the rich. A world of cancer-inducing radioactive residue, toxic air, water and soil.
Or you could have a global green democracy and/or a revitalized United Nations. A world of clean cheap enengy, food, water, and quality healthcare and education for a slowly dwindling population, now under benign control. A world in which you carry the torch as the new leaders and honest politicians of the future. You are the heirs of a reborn Gaia. The air and water are clean now. Carbon emissions are reduced by over 90%. People are happy and free. Nature is preserved, restored and sustained.
If you’re 24 years old now, you will be my age (67) in 2050. I’ll probably be long gone. The choices and consequences are yours to make! As a scientist and concerned world citizen, I have presented many things we must do to avert global catastrophe. How we implement our plan will be up to all of us, and will take great vision and courage.
We should start a "conspiracy of youth" to do the necessary long-term planning to create a peaceful, just and sustainable planet. Remember, the literal meaning of conspiracy is "breathing together”, something we know how to do in the practice of yoga. This kind of approach will become necessary if we are to survive. We have a very big job to do, so let’s roll up our sleeves and get going…and Godspeed!
Dr. Brian O’Leary is an environmental activist, author, international speaker and physicist with a deep background in energy policy and planetary science. As a younger man, he was an Eagle Scout. He served as a NASA scientist-astronaut, the first appointed to go to Mars, when that mission had been in NASA’s program plan during the 1960s. Dr. O’Leary then advised U.S. presidential candidates and U.S. Congress on science and technology issues. He has taught at Cornell, Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley. He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the World Innovation Foundation. Now he is professor at the University of Philosophical Research teaching a course in Science, Ecology, Ethics and Consciousness for their Masters program. His latest book is Re-Inheriting the Earth: Awakening to Sustainabile Solutions and Greater Truths. With his artist wife Meredith Miller, he has founded Montesueños, a retreat and nature center in the Ecuadorian Andes dedicated to the goals of peace, sustainability and justice. A number of essays on prospects for new energy technologies, and a description of what is planned at Montesueños, are posted on www.brianolearycom and www.montesuenos.org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sidebar: Solution Energy and Our Survival Require Basic Systemic Change
The issue of bringing forward new energy technologies forces the issue of how we govern and how we are governed. But how we are governed these days is hardly democratic. It mostly depends on the inertia of our private economic systems, particularly the central banks and the largest corporations vested in speculation, the weapons of war, dirty energy, agribusiness, the drug business, etc.
The massively corrupt U.S. government only aids and abets these economic powerhouses. Greed and privilege for the few force the rest of us into a collective nightmare. Clearly we cannot go on any longer like this.
Our priorities are so totally askew, we have lost our way towards the kind of sanity no prominent Democrat, let alone crazed neocon Republican, can come even close to achieving. Our problems are not only symptomatic, they are systemic at their very core. This is the level at which we can embrace solutions. The energy sector is one place where we can begin.
We know we have a serious problem when those we have entrusted to lead us have so relentlessly lied their way out of the obvious solutions such as clean energy. To be sure, the Bush administration is a caricature and the epitome of such totalitarian, life-destroying arrogance.
But the Democrats offer no new systems either. They offer only more of the same, albeit not as much “in-your-face”. We Americans will need to form a third political party devoted to systemic change, based on the frameworks of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and international law.
At the root of the problem is unregulated corporate capitalism. Far from Adam Smith’s vision of trade among equals, our current exploitive system is only bleeding most of us dry, thanks to the manipulations of an elite posing as “free traders”. The growing gulf between rich and poor coming out of these criminal practices is the most obvious symptom.
In reality, there is no such thing as “free trade” on a large scale. There is only the imperial exploitation of peoples, nature and resources. Contemporary North America in no way resembles the Founding Fathers’ ideals of life, liberty and happiness. It in no way embodies the principle that we are created equal. As Orwell famously said in his classic Animal Farm, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The Golden Rule now is “they who have the gold rule” instead of the standard, “treat your neighbors as you would have them treat you.” As we see the “haves” ever accumulating more and more wealth at the expense of the “have-nots”, we can trace this unmitigated greed to those who loan money for interest, which the creditors themselves set for their own profit.
We in the United States. have fallen for this ruse to the extent that we have created such a large credit and housing bubble, it will burst any time now, and carry most of the rest of us down with it, just as in the Great Depression of 1929. The Federal Reserve, World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other central banks must be abolished, and other large corporate entities, tightly regulated.
In a very perceptive essay, retired federal analyst Richard Cook (www.globalresearch.ca, July 29, 2007) recently offered three remedies to our systemic malaise of contemporary economics and governance: (1) meaningful employment and a guaranteed income for all, (2) low-cost credit provided at the individual and consumer levels, and (3) public infrastructure consisting of health, education, water, transportation and waste disposal, provided without charge to all persons. (I emphatically add environmental protection, solution energy and incentives to control world population to that list.)
The practices of economics and governance themselves need this kind of overhaul. The underpinnings of such a system must be moral and equitable. We should be ashamed to allow for this human-created poverty, starvation, genocide, biocide, injustice and resource depletion. Enough! We need to bring on the new systems very, very soon.
Is all this fanciful dreaming? I do not think so. In fact, we seem to have no choice but to embrace these systemic solutions and to shift the cultural paradigm.
In summary, we must do more than unseat the wrongdoers from power: we’ll need to get to work in creating those structures that can facilitate the needed changes such as solution energy.
One place to build these structural changes would be in the growing World Social Forums. Another is to work with some of the emerging governments of Latin America who are beginning to embrace these policies. Meredith and I have begun the process here at MontesueÒos in the Ecuadorian Andes.
But we’ll need to move beyond simply reforming our policies while keeping the basic elite systems intact. We must go beyond the shrill rhetoric of empire pounded into us daily by a fear-mongering government and media.
Breaking out of the old mindset and embracing the new is our task now, a very urgent one at that. As Maurice Maeterlinck once observed, “Each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand mediocre minds appointed to guard the past.”
We need to start from scratch in formulating new power structures that truly reflect the needs of the people and of the biosphere. These matters transcend the historic struggles between Left and Right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, white and black, man and woman, Muslim, Christian and Jew. They also transcend the myriad distinctions between all our past and present “isms”.
This worn-out way of relating can only polarize us into simplistic labeling and name-calling. This kind of behavior is surely inadequate to solve our current crisis. Systemic social change will be necessary for us to survive, regardless of which technologies will be the ones that will guide our solution energy.
The good news is, we can create new systems that can truly enhance the well-being of all life on Earth. Those systems can be designed to accommodate our real needs, free of vested interests. Restoring the U.S. Constitution and international laws are good frameworks from which to begin the journey.
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