Sunset comes early in the Himalaya: Between Larja Bridge and Namche Bazar (86.72 E, 27.80 N), 12 Nov 2008.
OK, so it may be 5 billion years from now but, even the Sun has a finite source of fuel: Nothing lasts forever and in turning hydrogen into helium, the Sun is like a pig defecating in its (very large) pig pen; eventually all the hydrogen will be turned into helium and it will balloon in size to become a red giant like Betelgeuse (in the Constellation of Orion)
is now. So we are in no immediate danger but, nonetheless, humanity desperately needs to acknowledge that all things come to an end and, since this includes fossil fuels, the time to invest in our future survival is now
. In my recent response to hearing about Canada’s incredibly short-sighted policy of seeking to become the world’s greatest energy super power (i.e. sell as much fossil fuel to anybody that will buy it), I found myself saying, “…when you get so desperate for fossil fuels that you start digging up something that needs five times more energy input (compared to conventional crude oil) to get the energy out of it, it surely must be time to invest in cheaper alternative forms of energy.”
This really does beg the question, why are energy companies chasing ever-harder fossil fuels rather than investing in easier ways earning a living? Last December, the brilliant satirist Charlie Brooker, who previously gave us such delights as ‘How to Report the News’ in his Newswipe series
, produced a mini-series called Black Mirror
(i.e. a television when not in use), which included an episode entitled 15 Million Merits
, which featured a dystopic future society where no-one goes outside (because the environment has been completely trashed?) and everyone is kept fit by peddling gymnasium bicycles (that generate all the electricity needed to keep everyone alive) whilst being entertained by all manner of TV programmes (including ruthlessly exploitative and amoral talent contests). It was immensely funny but also slightly scary; because it could so easily be where we are headed… We need to stop treating nature as an enormous warehouse whose goods can be used up without paying for them; and start living in a way that reflects the fact that our survival as a species is dependent upon nature not being degraded to the point that it ceases to function properly
. If we do not, the Sun is not
going to go out but
, in not so many decades from now, it might get hot enough
that we cannot go outside (much) to enjoy it.
Last rays of sun on Lhotse: As viewed from the trail just north of Tengboche (86.78 E, 27.85 N), 20 Nov 2008.
———————— UPDATE: As an addendum to this post, I would urge all climate change “agnostics”
to read my response
to John Kosowski’s questions posed in response to the above. Also, yes, I did
capture both of these images myself, and – yes – for the second time in a decade I flew in an aeroplane (six Hail Mary’s for that I guess).