Yes, and accessible soon if we choose wisely.
I just enjoyed reading Dan Brown's best-selling novel The DaVinci Code, certainly a thriller and mind-bender. Without giving away the plot, the book concerns the quest for the Holy Grail, inspiring deeper questions such as, should culture-shattering secrets be revealed? Do we have any business tampering with anything that threatens vested interests? In our hearts we yearn for truth and justice, but the real world can make that shift difficult if not impossible--yet eventually necessary for the greater good, for the upliftment of humanity.
Some researchers have suggested that new energy is the Holy Grail of our time, to replace current energy systems. What we are now doing in the energy sphere makes no sense and won't work. Let's review the statistics: about eighty percent of the world economy concerns our use of energy, directly or indirectly. Fossil fuels, mostly petroleum, by far comprise the largest market share of raw materials on Earth--about 74 per cent of our total energy use. Humans spend a staggering $2 trillion per year for all this as supplies dwindle and prices rise ever further.
The United States, with 4 per cent of the world's population, consumes a quarter of the energy, more than the entire planet used in 1950. Our thirst for oil motivated the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, with the world's second largest petroleum reserves, now worth $3 trillion and rising. These resources have been recklessly plundered as booty to serve the interests of the energy industry.
The quest for oil is a false Holy Grail, mostly rewarding those seeking windfall profits. But the supplies are limited and burning oil pollutes the air with toxic agents and producing devastating climate change and the rise of sea levels.
The same goes for nuclear power. As our sixty-year history of nuclear energy shows, we created a monster of weapons proliferation, safety concerns and radioactive waste disposal. Nuclear energy is not our Holy Grail! Nor are chemical or biological agents. Nor is the ultimate neoconservative vision of "full-spectrum dominance" by seizing the high ground of space with weapons that could destroy anyone or anything on Earth or beyond. More false Holy Grails.
Nor would our reliance on conventional renewables become the Holy Grail: silicon solar photovoltaics and wind turbines are intermittent, diffuse and materials intensive; hydrogen requires expensive infrastructures and consumes more energy to produce than we can get out of it; and biofuels still throw carbon into the atmosphere. Granted, solar, wind, hydrogen and biofuel systems would be far preferable to what we have now, but why settle for less in the long run if newer, more elegant options could be developed?
I believe that new energy, if properly applied, could become the Holy Grail of our time: examples include energy from the vacuum, low energy nuclear reactions, advanced hydrogen systems, cheap biodegradable photovoltaics and energy from the thermal environment. But as in any transformative quest, many feel that the secret shouldn't be revealed until we're wise enough to earn the right to apply it responsibly. But the other energy options are so dismal, we will need to explore, to pick out those technologies which are safe.
And therein lies the rub for new energy: can the technology develop without abusing it? So far it has been ignored in the public eye and yet is being quietly developed in the realms of governmental secrecy for potential weapons use. This too is a false Holy Grail, protecting the interests of only a controlling elite and endangering the rest of us. We must therefore require new energy for the greater good to be benign, meaning no weapons use and no overuse.
So far, we cannot we cannot guarantee that without a careful study and selection of the most benign, clean, cheap, reliable and decentralized sources now being researched. We at the New Energy Movement will oversee these studies and encourage public debate to help us all make intelligent choices ahead. So far, we have only heard from the interests of big business and their governmental cronies. In search of profit, those in control could only continue to offer false Holy Grails. Yet we believe a wide range of solutions meeting our criteria will be found if we only look.
It has been often said that the Holy Grail will find you before you find it if you are worthy. Our worthiness in creating a sane and safe energy future must be based on making intelligent choices rather than persisting with our currently destructive energy policies that are motivated by greed.
If we proceed wisely, we will soon discover that new energy will benefit us all if we can let go of outdated power structures, who would be the only ones to "lose" during the transition. The NEM will work with other public movements to seek peaceful methods of making the transition to a just and sustainable future.
Brian O'Leary, Ph.D.