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Watt’s Happening: A better world within our grasp

We know the steps we have to take along this path to a sustainable world; it is a path that is clearly marked. There are no mysteries here or great breakthroughs required. We already have everything we need.

I recently received an Honorary Associate Arts Degree from Northern Lights College for my environmental work – a big surprise and truly an honor!

However, it meant I was to give a positive and inspirational keynote address at the graduation ceremony in Dawson Creek to the some 150 graduates and 400 parents and supporters… live streamed too! Here is an edited version of what I said:

Climate change, it’s not all bad

When it comes to negativity, it would be hard to beat the negative news around climate change, wouldn’t it? You are all probably sick of hearing about climate catastrophe and the climate crisis. All the sacrifices we are going to endure, all the lifestyle changes we are going to have to make whether we want to or not. Blah, blah, blah.

Well today I am here, not to sugar coat the situation, there will be very tough times ahead, but I want to tell you that a lot of that negativity is a bunch of BS The changes we are going to have to make now, and we DO have to make them, are good news, and I want to tell you why.

Historic change now

We are already well on our way into one of the biggest, most radical changes humanity has ever faced, and now, it must be done at breakneck speed. This is truly an historic moment, and all of you will have a critical role to play making this world-wide change happen.

And this is not bad news. For you, there will be unlimited opportunities: for new, clean energy jobs; for new businesses that have hardly been imagined yet; for real prosperity that is no longer based on profit from environmental destruction.

Instead, profit and progress will be based on efficiency, intelligent use and re-use of resources, new ways of manufacturing, new and exciting modes of transportation. These new and better ways of doing things are already being rapidly implemented all around the world.

The end of energy scarcity

The sun shines every day, the wind blows every day, the earth is warm beneath our feet. These new renewable energies are self-perpetuating and everybody, all around the world, has a lot of them, many thousands of times more energy than we will ever need.

Once the infrastructure is in place – the solar farms, the wind farms, the geothermal plants and energy storage – we will never have to make energy again. Instead we will simply harvest the energy that the Earth gives away for free, the same energies that have powered life on this planet ever since there has been a planet, and the supply of these limitless energies will last forever. The age of energy scarcity is ending.

And you will make this happen, and you will reap the benefits too. Your homes will be powered by inexpensive sun and wind energy. You will be driving powerful electric vehicles (if you choose to drive at all), also powered by the sun and wind.

All this comes with a healthier, cleaner environment of course, driven by a growing respect for the natural world on which our very lives depend.

A better world within our grasp

You get the idea. The climate crisis will create unprecedented challenges but it also lays out a clear path to a much, much better world, a world so close now it is well within our grasp. Right now is when we need to make this massive shift, and right now is exactly when we have the knowledge, expertise and technology to do so. Remarkably, the timing is perfect.

Now, we entrust to you a global civilization based on science and technology, a world we all must understand. Trust the science. Science is by far, without the slightest doubt, our most reliable source of information and insight today.

Remember that there is a very big difference between scientific fact and opinion. Learn how to tell the difference. To understand the rapid changes that are upon us, and to make good decisions and choices, the advanced learning that you have begun here at Northern Lights College must continue.

Over my long career I have been a chemistry research assistant, a photographer, a journalist, a video producer, a book publisher, a marketing specialist, and now a renewable energy consultant. Pursue your interests and pursue them passionately, and you cannot fail.

Only one path forward

There are no for certain futures, just a very, very wide range of possible ones. The future that actually does unfold is one hundred per cent determined by what we do now, you and me, individually and collectively, every day.

There is only one path forward now. Just one. It is a path that is clearly marked. We know the steps we have to take along this path to a sustainable world, and we know how to take those steps. There are no mysteries here or great breakthroughs required. We already have everything we need.

Many have already taken the first steps along this path. We stand by to help, but now, it is up to you, to lead us the rest of the way.

From my heart, I thank you all.

Don Pettit lives and writes in Dawson Creek.

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