Dealing with doom; inspiration at the farewell of Jos Bruggink
‘It is my conviction that energy scarcity, climate change and global poverty will eventually lead to inventive solutions. Truly dramatic events will trigger people into collective action. It is up to the government to prepare for disaster.’ This optimistic quote comes from econometrician, former ECN researcher, professor at the VU University and IPCC author Jos Bruggink. He retired on 1 July. Bruggink would like to devote his free time to further elaborating his ideas in a book entitled Dealing with doom.
To offer Jos Bruggink some inspiration, energy experts from the Netherlands and abroad wrote a ‘liber amicorum’ on the occasion of his farewell. The key question in his book is: Is there any use in constructing models for the long term or to develop prognoses on the future of energy, even if these forecasts are often untrue? Most experts thinks there is. For example to help answer the ‘what if’ question. When something unexpected suddenly happens that has high impact – as in the case of Fukushima in March – what will be the consequences for various energy scenarios? Long term energy models may not be able to predict the future, but at least they are internally consistent and able to calculate changes that occur when certain parameters need to be adjusted. Moreover, long-term models sometimes deliver surprising insights, for example that hydrogen-fuelled vehicles might be more cost-effective in the long run compared to electric vehicles. These are interesting findings for politicians, which would have been out of the reach of short-term models.