Change is not a sudden and unexpected event. It is a process of learning and discovery which normally unfolds over a long period of time. It may be that change, to many observers, gives the impression of suddenness, such as the seemingly sudden appearance of the Internet and its rapid growth.
However these processes were prepared over years in small steps, many times taken by people who were not aware of each other or of the end result. When people within US government organizations took the first steps to create the technologies that form the basis for the Internet, the idea that at some point in time, far into the future, would become available to everyone everywhere, would have seemed ridiculous. Yet, investing in the development of these technologies and doing the job of development seemed like good ideas at the time.
Now, in the field of energy transformation, we have a good platform of knowledge in many of the fields where we need to change. We know many things about change needs in transportation, utilities, industrial processes, the built environment, agriculture and behavior change. Yet, many people remain to become informed about these opportunities and even those who are already “in the know” need to sort out ideas and structure the arguments so that we can communicate the key ideas in a structured and coherent way.
It will also be much easier to get people to understand what we are saying if you, Mohammed in Pakistan, convey a message that is similar to the one that Hugo spreads in Germany and that Jaime is talking about in Chile. This does not need to be exactly the same, but we need to agree on some key points.
I suggest that an important similarity between messages in different countries is the one that market based incentives need to be complemented by planned and managed change projects. One other aspect is that all aspects of the change that is necessary will not be covered financially by money from the financial markets. Governments will need to invest and to some extent manage the change processes.
One other important aspect is that we need to combine competences in the project. We need people with different points of view, who could agree that change is necessary, but who do not necessarily share a consensus on everything in the change program. Some people are already aware and they are working on different aspects of technology development or energy analyses or environmental issues. We still need to spread the idea of cooperation to them, or some of them and we need to agree on how to cooperate, at least to some extent, which still remains to be discovered.
Some groups in society need to become aware of the pressing need for change, due to peak oil or to global warming. (The reason for change is not the most important thing to agree on, but peak oil experts may need to become better informed about global warming and experts in environmental issues need to become better informed about peak oil. I need to learn about all kinds of issues related to energy transformation and technology, time permitting.) Economists, to a large extent seem to be unaware of the pressing need for change and they many times argue that we can’t afford large scale change. Do not take my word for it. It is much better if you make up your mind yourself and start by using the below link to the Statements on Oil made by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2005. It is succinct and makes a good introduction to the subject written by a very serious group of professors.
Business managers and consultants also need to understand the need to change and to cooperate. Sometimes we, initially, need to take steps that do not seem to make financial or business sense at the time. I cannot tell people which these steps are, you will find them in the process of discovery.
Politicians! Yes. They also need to become informed about the need to change and about the options in each area. Politicians will need to understand the areas where market based change will work and in which areas we will need managed projects to drive change. These subjects are covered in depth in Global Energy Transformation, which is published today in the UK and on the 7th of July in the United States.