As I write the Happy Eco News this week, I sit near my departure gate at Heathrow airport in London, England. I am at the end of a 7-day business trip that started near Hamburg Germany in the former East German town of Güstrow. During my trip across Germany by rail, I noticed that you do not have to look very far to see solar and wind generators quietly and efficiently creating clean, renewable energy. Having grown up in Canada, where we have a mostly resource based economy, you rarely see wind farms. Solar panels on the roofs of houses and business are not common.
But all that is changing. Solar is coming for oil.
Solar is coming for oil. In fact, I think renewable energy will displace fossil fuel very soon. In the top 5 happy eco news stories this week, four are directly about solar power type projects and one is about how the fossil fuel industry is now in “death knell phase”. Extreme words, but coming from a well-known analyst like Jim Cramer, they are highly remarkable. Love him or hate him, Mr. Cramer is self-avowed to have no political affiliation. He is neither left nor right, but simply loves money and believes only in one thing; making the stock market grow. Interestingly enough, the capitalistic love of money has driven the Western economy to an ever-rising high, but his type may in fact also be a dying breed.
It has become apparent that the endless pursuit of monetary reward as the only measure of success is what has gotten us to the place we are today. There is an inevitable shift occurring and the world will need move away from traditional capitalism toward a more equitable future. Maybe like that of “doughnut economics” where the true mark of success and profit is not just money, but also of healthy people and healthy ecosystems that support us. I also believe there is a balance that needs to occur. There is an undeniable part of human nature that is entrepreneurial in nature. We cannot escape the fact that many of us have a drive and ambition to build great things, but I believe we would be better off in a system similar to Scandinavian countries, where growth is encouraged and managed.
The winner takes all system used in the rest of the Western world is really much like the fox guarding the hen house. If there is no value placed on the natural world then who will protect it? We need more than self-regulation to manage our greed. Laws need teeth and politicians need to represent the people, not corporations. I think the rest of the world needs something similar to the democracy of Norway. With 9 political parties, their 169 seat system is almost guaranteed to never have a majority government – truly representation of the people, by the people, for the people (not just a few wealthy individuals). With 9 parties, they always have critical review and checks and balances. They have regulation on banks, finance and even the news industry all the while supporting public health care and free education to virtually any level. In fact, anyone can move to Norway and get a free higher level education, regardless of nationality.
But back to fossil fuel. The fact analysts are now openly discussing that some oil stocks are in sell mode, and that some oil companies are buying their own stock in an attempt to stave off devaluation, is telling. The traditional capitalists won’t go quietly mind you, they will try to hang on to their profits as long as possible and in so doing will need to shift their portfolios to green industries. There is a sense that a tipping point is coming and those who are holding large amounts of fossil fuel stocks will be in the same position as those who were holding tobacco in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
This tipping point may be coming soon; no fund manager wants to be the one to lose everything from the fall of an industry, and there is clear evidence this shift is already occuring. Sales of electric vehicles are on the rise; Tesla’s share price has skyrocketed in recent months, renewable energy is cheaper than the traditional forms and people the word over are starting to wake up to the fact that we need to change what we are doing. They understand that the traditional winner takes all, greed-based capitalist is like a dinosaur watching the asteroid impact the earth. Soon to be replaced by something else, the dinosaur’s future is already determined, but it just doesn’t know it yet. Maybe it knows but just has not yet accepted its own inevitable demise.
Smart money is now investing in renewable energy, positioning to be a part of the huge growth predicted for this sector. Interest is growing. For example, the other four articles in this week’s top 5 are all about solar. From a new solar generation technology that works at night, to a huge solar panel in Queensland, or a solar powered barge that collects plastic waste, clean power from the sun works and is effective. It is cheaper than any other forms of power generation and due to increases in efficiency and lower costs of energy storage, it is able to be effectively deployed in locations where it would not have made sense just a few years ago. It is now the most popular form of new electricity generation worldwide. A pretty amazing situation when you consider how pervasive the use of fossil fuels has been for the last one hundred years or more.
When change happens, it often happens fast. I am extremely excited for the future. Renewable energy generation such as solar power is growing quickly. A tipping point is coming; directly and indirectly, renewable energy will power everything from cars to carbon capture devices. It will power the production of low carbon or biofuels that will be used in airplanes and transoceanic vessels. It will power trade, and education and the advancement of society.
A sustainable future is almost upon us and I for one, can’t wait.
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