One of the extended Bambu Indah and trash walking family, Joe Crossley is someone you need to meet. We had a conversation on energy and what Joe thinks we should be doing to save the world from humankind.
I am a new media artist. I use technology to deliver communication points. I work in projection mapping, but I have a background as a scientist, as a marine biologist. A lot of my art is science- focused; I have a PHD in data systems – how we perceive data, from reading a book or talking to people. (For more on Joe, check out his website and portfolio.)
On dangers of ‘green energy’
How are we going to get out of the problem that we are roller coasting into? The problem at the moment is the conspiracy of the green energy world- about how and where our energy comes from. How we are creating the energy? What does it take to create that energy? What are the output and the implications around it? When China says that they will invest their energy in green power, who gets those contracts? Who gets those multi billion dollar contracts? It’s a really big business- government lobbyists, and consequently the media, presenting the solution creates the demand; therefore the industry.
The two solutions that we are being given at the moment are solar and wind. Solar cell batteries require more energy to make than that solar cell will ever put out during its existence on the planet. The same for the energy saving light bulb. The energy of that lightbulb is completely outweighed by the energy needed to build that lightbulb.
We as humans jump on things because we think it’s best. Like we jump on the soy bandwagon, “Oh, I am not going to drink milk because milk destroys the world. I’m going to drink soy because I’m going to save the planet.” Well, soy is the single biggest cause of deforestation on the planet today. That drink is the reason why our rain forest has been slashed and burned around the planet, that and, obviously, palm oil. What is palm oil for? Green biodiesel. Another green effect that is destroying the planet.
On his art and geothermal energy
I designed artwork that was originally made for an island that I grew up on- an island of volcanic rock, with no plant life, all the electricity comes from diesel generator. My piece was designed to run on geothermal energy, micro geothermal energy. You drill down to the ground, sometimes 100m, sometimes 3km, but the energy that made by that system is clean, renewable- it’s constant. And also the footprint is the size of this table, you can put it in the middle of the jungle and the jungle could grow and produce electricity. It’s completely scalable- the expense of it is in drilling the hole. We live on the surface of a giant nuclear reactor. Why are we building reactors on the surface of the planet when we live on one? Bali, for example, could go completely free energy within a year. It wouldn’t take that long. All of Iceland has been powered by geothermal for years. The energy that they are creating, the heat coming from the ground, is actually healing for you. It invigorates your body, it energizes your body systems. The heat coming from electricity is actually the opposite.
On energy debt
Making solar cells is destroying the planet. The energy that is required to make solar cells outweighs the energy produced; it will never repay that energy debt back. Looking at the forms of energy, there are essentially energy positive forms, like tidal power, tidal barrages- based on a daily occurrence. You know exactly how many kilo watts you are going to get from that system. Unlike wind turbines. The UK has the most fluctuating wind system in the world- it could be millpond for weeks, but there will be one night where the wind goes ummphhh. But the energy that windmill requires to keep going, plus the energy to make them, means there is no comparison. It’s destroying and using up our useful energy to create the system that is apparently green, but not really when you look into the energy debt. You need to look at the whole system and see how that choice affects the bio-system.
On redesigning the system
In redesigning our planet, which is what we are doing now, we eventually need to look into the real solution rather than buying into the ones that we have be told are solutions. You will never hear politicians talk about tidal because you can go to the bay and make your own tidal generator. You could dam the river and you could have a hydro dam system that could produce power for all of the houses. Energy is the one way that keeps people paying bills and in the system. If you have a free energy system, you could just disappear. Literally, once you create your own electricity and communication systems, you can have your own production facilities and you can make your own things. You can power your house, surf the internet, link up to the satellite, and do whatever that you want to do. Clean your water, build your houses, create your own community.