Free Energy? - No thanks!
There's much talk these days about tapping the unlimited sources of free energy that exist in the quantum vacuum field.
Initially it would seem like a dream come true. It could relieve of us our dependence on fossil fuels, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and save us from some of the more dire consequences of global warming. No bad thing at all. Not to mention the fact that it would be cheap too. It would also be most welcome in developing countries where it could transform agriculture, housing, sanitation and provide many other much-needed services. But we in the developed world would not stop there. There are so many other things we could do with an infinite supply of energy. And that's when I shudder.
Look at what we have done with the energy we have already. We've ploughed up prairies, razed forests, drained aquifers, polluted the oceans, atmosphere and soil, extinguished untold other species, and consumed more and more of the planet's finite resources in the process.
What would we do with unlimited free energy? Suddenly recover from this self-centered, destructive behaviour? Most likely we would concrete over yet more of the planet (to make more roads for all those additional free-energy cars), manufacture more material goodies (and more factories to produce them), and consume even more of Gaia's dwindling resources.
Look at what happened two hundred years with the energy breakthroughs that led to the Industrial Revolution. Until then, the primary source of energy had been muscle (mainly human muscle, but augmented by horses, oxen, donkeys, and other beasts of burden). New technologies meant people no longer needed to work their muscles so hard. A new comparatively "free" energy was being harnessed by steam engines, electricity and, later, internal combustion engines. This seemingly limitless supply of energy has benefited humanity in untold ways. Yet, at the same time, our unbridled use of that energy has resulted in the environmental crisis that now threatens our survival, if not the planet herself .
Can we be sure that we would not make the same errors today? We seem as greedy, as self-centered, as hungry for things as ever. Until we change our thinking, until our minds are free from the attitudes and beliefs that lie at the root of our global crisis, these traits will continue to wreak their havoc. Free energy, rather than being our saving grace, could take us closer to disaster.
Simply put, I do not believe we are ready for free energy. It has probably been good that energy has always had a cost. We needed some constraint to curb us. So, should we indeed discover an unlimited source of energy in the near future, my hope is that it's availability will be restricted, rationed, and not given away freely. Alternative sources of energy; Yes. Renewable energy; Yes. But free energy? No Thanks!