Someone Else’s Problem Field
Charles Bayless is a retired utility executive having served as chief executive officer of Illinois Power and of Tucson Electric. He was also President of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, and is a board member of several organizations including the Climate Institute.
To many, especially several of our policy makers, climate change and ocean acidification seem to be perpetually cloaked in a Someone Else’s Problem Field.
The term was defined by Douglas Adams in his 1982 book Life, the Universe and Everything. Adams was the creator of the comedy sci-fi series Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Cloaked in such a field, they are effectively invisible. Year after year, scientists warn of the dangers. We pay lip service to them, and our carbon dioxide levels relentlessly increase.
We must realize that the thirty to forty percent renewable targets that many have set are totally inadequate to halt our steady descent into a “hellish future.” To avoid this future will require renewable levels of eighty to ninety percent, and international cooperation.
Achieving these levels will require continued technological progress not only in renewable sources. But also in the platform on which they operate and which enables them, the electric grid.
What we are currently doing, by concentrating on renewable sources to the exclusion of the grid, is akin to airplane manufacturers developing only new engines after World War II. Today we would have modern high-bypass engines on DC-3’s.
To develop the grid, we must make changes in the design of the market for electricity.