As I drove to the gym this morning along the Great Ocean Road, I spotted this solar panel about to start its day’s work. It put me in mind of, shall we say, an ‘exchange of views’ I had recently with a friend, who, though not quite a climate change denialist, would certainly have to be described as feeling no sense of urgency about the need to shift to alternative and renewable energy sources. When I told him I was thinking of installing solar panels on the roof, he accused me being a sucker for every trendy or politically correct cause that comes along.

He had done his homework, or so he believed, on the inefficiencies of solar energy: “it will take you at least six years to get back your initial investment” he gloated.

“Yes”, I agreed, “it’s called amortization, meaning ‘to pay it off gradually’, the concept’s only been around for a couple of hundred years. And have you worked out how far ahead I’ll be after the next six years? You should try it some time, handy arrangement when you want to buy a house. Or build a bridge. Financially, there’s no reason at all not to switch to a range of renewable energy sources: solar, wind, tidal.”

“You’re crazy,” he laughed, “what will happen on the first cloudy, windless day when the sea is flat as a pancake?”

“Well, I guess we won’t be cooking pancakes,” I offered, . . . but I was wondering if he had ever heard of batteries and management and interim fossil fuel back up.

Aparna, Lester, Shu, Richard and 10 others said thanks.

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David Wade Chambers

Born in Oklahoma: 30 years in US. 6 years in Canada, 40 years in Australia. Academic field: history and philosophy of science. Currently, teach indigenous studies online at Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and Brandon University (Manitoba). Come visit our B&B on Australia's Great Ocean Road. Mate's Rates for Hi community! (

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