Back in 2007, Dr Brian Cox, a member of the High Energy Physics Group at the University of Manchester, started a ripple that has now turned into a political and social tsunami.
“Our responsibility is not merely to look after the Earth, but also to be custodians of our civilization. We need to harness the same power that fuels the sun, and use more, not less, energy”, he wrote.
“The human brain is the most complex, precious and beautiful natural structure in the universe” pleads Brian Cox, “let’s give it the freedom to explore all possibilities and realize all innovations”.
Today, Cox’s thoughts have polarized world leaders, environmentalists and the general public.
“So what do you actually want us to do? Save energy or grow the economy? We can’t do both.” say consumers in many first world countries as governments dither between energy conservation and curtailed growth on the one hand, or rampant industrialization on the other.
Brian Cox is clear that energy conservation is not the answer: “It is immoral because it condemns vast numbers of the world’s citizens to a harder life than my own today, and dangerous because it will prevent us from expanding intellectually, technologically and physically.
“What is required is a significant increase in research spending, to increase the number of young people moving into science and learning how to release the vast potential of future power sources.
“The goal of energy policy today should be to bridge the gap until this happens, without irreparably damaging the environment.”