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Positive Alarmism


Positive Alarmism

Brett Holverstott

Lately I've felt like the opposite of an alarmist. I'm not sure what exactly to call it.

While an alarmist might stand on the street corner shouting doom and gloom, I am trying to inform people on the logistics of how things are gonna get a lot better. A really lot better. Real soon.

We are not used to hearing that.

While the threat of danger initiates our fight or flight instinct and impells us to action, the prospect of impending betterment, lurking in a surprise patch of radiant sunshine, leaves us grasping for how to respond.

Original artwork by Matt Schmidt.

Original artwork by Matt Schmidt.

The trick, I am finding, is to scare people about this future betterment. Its surprisingly easy to do.

I've explained to audiences how the Brilliant Light Power's hydrino technology will give us a new source of clean, ridiculously cheap energy, that is applicable not only to developed countries, but also developing countries in a microdistributed infrastructure, simultaneously solving the problem of water access, water sanitation, and rural electrification across the globe.

We are angry that the Trump administration is cancelling our commitments to climate change and urging a return to fossil fuels over renewables. But BLP's SunCell has a anticipated long term cost per kilowatt at least a factor of 10, and possibly a factor of 100, cheaper than extracting and burning coal. It will plow over existing energy technologies and infrastructure like a bulldozer in the coming decade.

Climate activists have used their fight instinct to advocate for climate action. But here, economic action will impell the deployment of the SunCell (or similar reactors) everywhere. It has the power to unite both the industrialists and the climate activists; I have already seen this start to happen.

And the kicker is just how soon this will happen. It will catch the world by surprise. Because Brilliant Light Power has been in the research and development phase for 25 years, no one will believe their forcasts for delivering a widget. But they are now building the alpha prototype of the SunCell in collaboration with the prototyping firm Columbia Technologies and a photovoltaic manufacturer Masimo Semiconductor. They plan to deploy units for field testing sites this year. Let's suppose it doesn't happen until next year.

Still, holy shit.

Now here is where scaring people is surprisingly easy: we all fear change, especially economic change, because our way of life depends on it. And I don't mean as a society, I mean as individuals. We lose our job and need to do something new. A lot of us stand to lose our jobs.

I believe the economic changes we should expect from the SunCell will be sudden. Deployment will be slow and steady, but long before it has been deployed everywhere, the bottom will drop out of existing fossil fuel energy providers, in a massive redistribution of investment dollars. When that happens, jobs will start to dissappear.

Most worrisome is the countries that rely to a significant or overwhelming portion of their GDP on fossil fuel production. If these economies cannot react quickly, the populations will suffer. At first.

Ultimately, the new power source will enable all countries to prosper. Costs will go down for nearly all sectors as fewer resources are required for energy production. And all those investment dollars will create entirely new industries.

When you see something with the potential to change the world, how do you respond? Do you decide to become part of the change? Do you immediatly dismiss it as implausible? Or some other reaction?