From massive solar warehouses to stunning urban wind turbines, I have made the case before that visibility is almost as important as productivity in these early phases of the low carbon revolution. We need to make the technological and cultural break that are undoubtedly happening tangible for the majority of the population—and we need to make the case for why they make the world, and our economies, safer, better and more stable. In a great piece over at Business Green, James Murray reminds us that the low carbon revolution is everywhere and warns us all of getting too pessimistic in the face of persistent political rejection of science, or the ever worsening news about the climate:
If you travel up both the west and east coast mainlines and you seek distraction from the appalling overcrowding by staring out the window you will notice that wind turbines and solar panels are nowhere near as rare as they used to be. Similarly, if you are fortunate enough to visit Newcastle you will find that the UK's greenest city (according to one recent study) boasts numerous electric car charge points, a Boris Bike style hire scheme, the groundwork for a geothermal power network, the UK's largest import facility for biomass power feedstocks, and two of the world's leading clean tech research institutions in the form of the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) and the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (NIReS).
And if you spent one of the few sunny days we've enjoyed over the past few weeks lounging in my local park in Kilburn you would notice that the adjacent primary school has installed a sizable solar array on its south facing roof. Finally, if, like my partner's cousin you leave your job as an army engineer after three tours of Afghanistan and return home to Kent you can find yourself putting the skills you learnt servicing tanks and military 4x4s to good use working on one of the county's offshore wind farms.
There is nothing unique about these vignettes, but taken together they highlight the fact that the UK's low carbon economy is in the midst of a genuinely exhilarating phase as it moves rapidly from drawing board to execution.
Sure, as Murray argues, policy matters, and the science is grim. But we ARE seeing a green revolution happening—our task is not to ensure whether it happens at all, but whether it happens fast enough. And for that, we need to get excited.