The deadly smog that is choking Delhi and surroundings is yet another wake up call of how serious the risk of environmental catastrophe is around the world, but gravest in the largest metropolis of the planet. The fight for a cleaner Earth, a future for the environment has to be global, serious and constant. This is a real health emergency, a very real and present danger that will have immediate health consequences for all.The global commitment for a future for this planet, is strategic, and it can in no way be a short-term tactical opportunistic scam to benefit the ambitions of some in detriment of the majority and of Earth as our common home.
Some of the important pillars of a long-term strategy incude sustainability, clean energy renewable, recycling, better and more scientifically efficient sewages and water purification systems. Also mandatory are rational energy and water consumption, respect to our ecosystems and biodiversity, a responsible and sustainable exploitation of our natural resources, a rational urban planning, and scrupulous respect for the oceans and rivers. This strategy must not just assure a future for the planet, but save it from a certain destruction, what would mean the inevitable doom of mankind.
But there is also a certain kind of environmental fundamentalism, a partial, biased, short-sighted and opportunistic zealots that never take the bigger picture into account, of if they do they ignore to serve their own interests better. Let’s focus on energy. Those that oppose the latest technology in coal-fired power plants, ignore that the modern Ultra Super Critical coal technology is cleaner and more efficient than the vast majority of other fossil fuel-fired power plants.
This same self-indulging lobby opposes nuclear energy and all other conventional generation methods, ignoring that the shutdown of nuclear power plants will need to be compensated with a rational mix of renewable and conventional ones—only renewable is not going to be possible for many years to come. Conventional generation and renewables will coexist for decades before we can have purely renewables and nuclear fusion, which is the energy of the sun, as opposed to fission, which is today’s nuclear technology.
Solar Photovoltaic (PV) technology is increasingly efficient and the price is more competitive, but it will only make the quantum leap that we all want when storage technology becomes efficient, reasonably priced and with a high capacity of storage. Today, there is no solar farm with serious storage at an industrial scale. Precisely, an Indian group will probably be the first in the world to develop a PV solar farm with industrial scale storage. That will be a major contribution to the planet’s future and not only a legitimate and profitable business enterprise. Bravo.
Those that want a clean planet have to be realistic. We can and probably must be utopic in goals, and realistic and pragmatic in realisations. We have to be open-minded and accept change, but understand that it has to be implemented at the right time and not at the expense of other priorities, such as welfare, education or healthcare, because there has to be a balance between cost and results; and that our resources are limited and have to be rationally used.
Energy and water are indissolubly united, the future of clean water depends on rationalisation of consumption, recycling, purification, river recovery, waste management (to prevent waste water from contaminating clean water and only release recycled clean water back into the environment). And, of course, desalinisation, that is an extremely energy-intensive procedure requiring massive energy generation to create pure water. In the procedure, the management of the salt residue too needs to be improved.
All of this, a little too technical jabber, is meant to underline how irresponsible, and deliberately misleading the zealots of environmental fundamentalism are. The reality is far more complex than slogans, tweets or sound-bites. Our planet’s future can’t be explained in 140 characters.