Or was the promise made too soon with too little proof?
These are the questions left unanswered by “Beyond Solar.” For every step we take, for every new breakthrough and new power source we discover, there is a catch.
Beyond Solar’s publisher, Simon Johnson, is currently working on a new book about the quest to build a sustainable power source that doesn’t harm forests or degrade wildlife habitats or cause climate change. He’ll release more details soon.
I emailed him to ask if his novel represents a “breakthrough from that point” or a way to “take the story forward to tell that other story.”
“I hope it is the latter,” he wrote back, “to tell a story of sustainability from the point of view of animals.”
Here’s what I took away. We are getting somewhere.
A Breakthrough Is Taking Place
When you’re talking about sustainable energy, there are multiple layers. You have the technical infrastructure that will go into creating the power source: the panels and substations, the transmission lines that will bring electricity directly to homes with solar panels, the distribution systems that will help distribute the power. You also have the politics associated with getting people to pay attention to the issues. There will be government hearings about the issue, there will be lobbying for legislation that might make it more expensive to build a power source or, better yet, put an end to it. And then there is the problem of access. Energy is an inalienable human right—but it’s also a scarcity we will continue to face as civilization progresses.
The story of sustainability starts with humans, who are the main drivers of humanity’s energy consumption.
The story of sustainability starts with humans, who are the main drivers of humanity’s energy consumption. In the novel, we explore a world where humans have begun to use a new type of technology that allows them to “solar power”.
As energy usage goes up and up, more and more people will look at the issue of sustainability as important. Solar power is the only solution that will stop the runaway growth and climate change.
If we’re going to reach the zero emissions goal that climate scientists have been discussing since the 1970s, and even more importantly, become self-sustainable, we’re going to have to transition away from fossil fuels. We’re going to have to start using alternative forms of energy. And, hopefully, we can solve these problems one