Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 18th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
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Imagine for a moment, if you will, that someone comes up with a way to generate almost limitless, cheap, clean energy from a device that is little larger than a suitcase.
It doesn't matter whether it's powered by fusion, quantum effects or whatever -- the bottom line is that it will enable each and every one of us to generate years' worth of power for just a few thousand dollars in capital cost.
Would this be a good thing or a bad thing -- and how would the various components of our scientific, business, political and social world react to the availability of such a device?
Would it mark an end to wars over oil, an end to poverty and global warming, and the elimination of things such as famine and starvation?
Or would it be something to be feared -- bringing far greater problems to the earth and its inhabitants?
Call me a pessimist (I prefer to consider myself a realist) but I think that such a device would cause utter mayhem and disaster for the vast majority of the planet -- that's if we ever got to use it.
Perhaps I'd be proven wrong but I suspect the very first thing that would happen to such a device is that it would be compulsorally acquired by the governments of any nation where it attempted to be used.
The list of justifications for the seizure of such a device or the knowledge that would allow it to be built would be many and varied.
In the interests of national security, the public interest, assuring the stability of financial markets, etc, etc. Governments would roll out an endless list of reasons why the public ought not be able to generate their own limitless energy from an affordable device.
Clearly, the availability of these things would immediately throw the energy markets into chaos.
A power station that was yesterday worth billions of dollars would become all but worthless overnight.
Oil companies would see their shareprices plunge, as it became apparent that the current dependency on fossil fuels would be all but broken.
Governments would scramble to avoid the situation where their very significant revenues from the taxes on fuels and power were lost.
For these reasons, and many more, it becomes easy to see why so many parties would be working so very hard to suppress, regulate, tax or restrict access to such a wonderful technology.
Even if the plans were released to the public domain and put on the internet, governments would move very quickly to classify them as contraband and severely punish anyone who owned, published or passed on such evil information.
It's a sad indictment on the world -- but I would wager a huge amount of money that what I describe is exactly what would happen.
So today's question for readers is: how would you go about handling it if *you* discovered some method of creating the aforementioned cheap, clean, affordable power source that might change the world?
Is there any way it could be bought to the people -- or would those very many organisations with too-much to lose ensure it remained the property of the 1%?
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