As those attempting to circumnavigate the globe in Solar Impulse, the solar-powered aeroplane, contemplate the long leg across the Pacific, what, if anything, does it mean for us as individuals living and working in the UK?
Is it merely an expensive philanthropic exercise and publicity stunt (costing millions just for a single pilot), or should we be looking to this project as a potentially significant and inspirational development in a race to protect our planet against the damage we are causing, and therefore money well spent?
The Wright brothers faced opposition 100 years ago, but without their vision and perseverance we would not be travelling the world as we do today. An ironic curse – “progress” has its price (think of Thomas Midgley and leaded petrol and CFCs for example, or the concern over the smog during the Beijing Olympics), but whether or not our children or grandchildren or the food we eat will be flying without fuel in the future, it serves to demonstrate what we are capable of achieving if we channel our resources the right way.
Therefore we should see this as part of a journey, a step in itself, an opportunity to harness renewable energy and devise ways to incorporate this ethos into our lives. Maybe someone will be inspired to develop a viable solar-powered car, or make one harmful industrial process more efficient.
Each of us individually can play our part in helping the environment; it is the cumulative effect that will ultimately make the difference. So take responsibility. Lead by example.
What can you do today to make tomorrow’s world a cleaner and more sustainable place?