This story from the New York Times about the search for alternative energy sources suggests two things to me:

– firstly that, unlike Australia’s stimulus package, President Obama’s – regardless of how well it works at helping restore the economy – at least makes a decent effort at using the stimulus to start on a major shift to renewable energy;

President Obama’s stimulus package has given a terrific boost to renewable energy. It will pay lasting benefits. And we need to keep working on all forms of solar, geothermal and wind power. They work. And the more they get deployed, the more their costs will go down.

– and secondly, while we’ll still need more than that, hoping for the big technological fix is a nice dream, albeit possibly a dangerous one.

But, in addition, we need to make a few big bets on potential game-changers.

I complain frequently about how debates about climate change seem to usually avoid emphasising the need to significantly change our own lifestyles. So I am particularly sceptical about the use of constantly looking for the big technological fix, as it encourages us to keep thinking we can basically continue with business as usual and hope someone else will sort it all out.

I get even more sceptical about technological solutions that rely on hopes for fusion or technology that produces more energy than it expends. It all seems a bit too much like a perpetual motion machine to me.

This NYT story about a possible “laser-powered fusion energy plant” just seems like more science-fiction style wishful thinking. But there are certainly many far smarter brains than mine when it comes to physics, so I suppose I shouldn’t let scepticism completely obliterate hope.

If the latest climate change assessments by many of the smarter climate scientists are anywhere near correct, hoping for a miracle – technological or otherwise – might be getting close to our best chance.

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