One of the things I've been very vocal about in recent years is my frustration with the fact that we have unprecedented knowledge at our fingertips, and we largely squander it. Our culture even seems to prefer living in ignorance. Maybe it's largely an American phenomenon, but I don't really know.
Tonight I watched Episode 12 of the new Cosmos series that aired this year: "The World Set Free." Among other things, it explains climate change in scientific terms. If it seems like the science is so easy to understand that Al Gore can present it, that's because it really is that easy to understand. It's just known physics, and it was theorized even before the industrial revolution brought us into a mode of CO2 emission. I can't explain why people make it a political issue or insist that it isn't real, given the fact that few things in science are so agreed upon. I suppose it's the need to feel that we as a species are too above nature, or maybe it's just good old fashioned defense of capitalism.
One of the neat sidebars on that show included the history of solar energy. It had many significant false starts, the first in the later part of the 19th century. The idea that all of this free energy was there for the taking was, not surprisingly, usurped by the cheapness of fossil fuels. It's a mistake we continue to make over and over.
But despite our cultural issues that prevent us from moving forward, we have the technology today to reverse climate change and embrace energy that won't bake us in the process. In fact, we have the ability to solve a great many of the world's problems, if only we will ourselves to do so. Think about that sincerely for a moment, beyond the obvious cheerleading for humanity angle. How can you not be excited about that? Awesome is right there in front of us, if we choose to embrace it.
This doesn't mean we all need to get PhD's and become uber-scientists. It does mean that each of us has to use our energy on less of the things that take up a lot of our bandwidth. We have to stop hating and fearing each other, for one. It's the root of everything that has gone wrong throughout human history. Of course we need to enjoy our lives with some things that we might consider meaningless (like reality TV), but it can't consume us. Above all, we each need to take more time to understand the world around us. That isn't going to happen watching cable "news" networks. I think we're generally pretty good at helping each other out, but it seems we only do it when things are at their worst. I hope that can change.
I'm naively more optimistic about what we're capable of than I ever have been. I want to be a part of that capability. I don't know if I can play a leadership role in that process, and honestly it doesn't matter if it's me or someone else. I want Simon to see that awesome is possible. It's right there.