The experience of living without
Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will.
â€” Ralph Waldo Emerson,
So what does the coronavirus have to do with alternate energy? Part of the alternate energy paradigm is conservation. What energy we donâ€™t use or avoid using is energy that did not have to be produced. The need to curtail the use of energy is just as important as the environmentally safe production of energy. As we are encountering a period of quiet â€” as it were â€” it is noticeable that the environment in this short time is showing signs of improvement. It might be a good time to assess how the environment would react to a human slowdown. Maybe we can learn something from it.
Communicable diseases will be more and more a regular concern of our lives even after this coronavirus fades or has remedy. World population is increasing rapidly. There are more people to host a disease and spread it as well. Jet age travel allows us to be anywhere on the planet in a day also raising the spread of disease as well as making the source harder to determine.
The memories of our experiences stay with us long after the experience itself. Education cannot take the place of experience. We must feel it in ourselves to take root and action. In this case we are learning adaptability. We are experiencing that there are limits to our way of life. We are learning that we can do without. In doing, so we are adapting and finding new ways to do our jobs and how we handle our resources. Granted itâ€™s a paradigm shift but it may actually produce a better humanity.
Telecommuting from home is the way some businesses are adapting. This saves traveling to and from work. It also provides better time management for the worker. According to the Census bureau an average commute consumes 53 minutes a day. This translates to about a gallon of gas a day per commute and an extra hour of living. Office buildings would raise or lower their thermostats accordingly to conserve resources. Further as our wants will take second place over our needs there is a significant saving in energy by closing our sporting and music events.
The Environment: A calm in the storm, the unexpected side effect benefit
The effect on the environment of self quarantine s in stark contrast to the miseries to the human race. Accompanying this column is a satellite picture of Chinaâ€™s NO2 ceiling before and during its peak response to the coronavirus. As you know, China, now months ahead of the U.S. has â€śflat-linedâ€ť in terms of new cases. The U.S., because of the failure of the President to follow the advice of his medical advisors and the elimination of the National Security Counselâ€™s Pandemic Team nearly two years ago, is now months behind as demonstrated by the near vertical ascent of the number of cases and deaths over this short period of time.
However, air and water pollution are showing signs of recovery worldwide in this very short time. The canals of Venice are clearing up, for example. Along with this unintended side effect we are learning that there are a number of jobs that can be done at home. This efficiency can translate into less use of resources, less crowded cities, reduced traffic, etc. All reducing the carbon footprint.
The improvement to the environment was quick but can it last? The observation of this effect has demonstrated that we donâ€™t have to travel. We can be as effective at home for some jobs. Many aspects of certain jobs are simply not necessary. A whole new paradigm is now available. Hopefully this will be studied. Conservation is a big factor in alternate energy.
Meanwhile back at the solar and wind farms
The coronavirus is shrinking the work force for the rapidly expanding solar and wind installation business. This is the downside of the virus for the alternate energy industry. Presumably this will be temporary. Fortunately there is no slow down for the future of solar and wind energy.
Maybe some good will come out of this. Maybe this will convince some that telecommuting can save a lot of money and eliminate a lot of fluff in certain jobs. Maybe we can learn to live without and still survive with a modicum of happiness. It is adversity that makes us stronger and wiser. Lets hope some good comes from this period of necessary adaptation.