Change happens

I read with delight that Paul Reeves of Cambridge proposes a ‘can-do’ attitude. I am a very ‘can-do’ person, and wish that the world were truly inhabited by many more ‘can-do’ people.

I applaud Reeves’s assertion that more engineers with a positive approach to issues will make a make a positive difference, however leadership and lack of cynicism are missing from the mix.

In the ‘can-do’ vein, there is an excellent opportunity to charge the electric transport of the future from the variable and intermittent wind power of today. There is an even brighter and smarter method that uses a proportion of the stored energy in the cars on charge as an enormous store that can be called on at times of peak demand — an excellent demonstration of what can be done.

However — and here is the crux of the matter — both of these actions change the environment. The building of wind turbines, and the extension of the grid will all require energy. The manufacture of the batteries and chargers, the rare earth metals, and so on, all require energy. As noted in another correspondent’s letter, we do not get something for nothing.

I agree with Reeves; essentially there is hope — we have the skills, and there are the resources to make a difference. However, in the long term, things will change. Even the human race is not capable of keeping the planet just as it is. A major volcanic eruption, a new ice age, or — heaven forefend — a period of intense warming will all change the planet, and the humans that survive.

As a final point, on the whole planet it is only humans that are a universal consumer, and only humans that believe that it is our right to inhabit, in comfort, all reaches of the globe.

Not despondent, nor a nay sayer, it is my firm belief that the human race will survive. Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that climate change and conservation (of all aspects) are mutually exclusive, but that seems self evident.

Howard Bradfield