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1.5 Deg C = Electricians

1.5 Deg C = Electricians

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 297).

If I was starting again today I would train to be a time served, certified electrician. There are economic reasons for this, first, lets set the scene. As of October 10, 2021:

  • Oil is $79.59 USD a barrel (source: Yahoo Finance) i.e. up 102% in 1 year.
  • Natural gas is $5.59 USD per million BTU (source: Yahoo Finance) i.e. up 107% in 1 year.
  • Coal is $220.00 USD per Ton FOB (source: Yahoo Finance) i.e. up 371% in 1 year.
  • Uranium is $41.25 USD per lb. (source: Yahoo Finance) i.e. up 39% in 1 year.

Energy is THE primary input for our civilization, without it civilization evaporates fast. Petroleum is in almost everything we touch and without energy, food production plus basic needs at scale become impossible. Energy is a matter of national security and therefore subject to geopolitical pressures.

Now consider these 3 macro trends.

1. Electric vehicle sales are predicted to be over 40 million units by 2040 (source: Wood Mackenzie). IMHO, current power grids cannot support this at all.

2. Bitcoin’s 2021 estimated annualized electricity consumption hovers just above 115 TWh and is growing (source: Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finances & The Guardian UK).

3. To try and prevent a 1.5 Deg C increase in average global temperatures we must “halve carbon emissions by 2030 and aim to fully decarbonize by 2050”. (source: IPCC). This has created a movement to electrify buildings and over time eliminate coal and gas as primary power supply inputs.

Add to all this, dysfunctional politics plus a lack of investment and maintenance in existing power infrastructure and you get;

  • crackdowns on Bitcoin mining,
  • power firms going bust,
  • low energy resilience leading to blackouts,
  • rising energy costs and pollution because coal and gas plants have to be used to meet growing demand,
  • inflation.

Now consider this individual level behavior trend.

1. According to the Hot or Cool Institute to stay below a warming of 1.5°C we need to aim for an annual lifestyle carbon footprint target of 0.7 tCO2e per capita by 2050 (image and date source: report, 1.5 Degree Lifestyles). For context, Canada has a long way to go with a footprint of 14.2 tCO2e.

0.7 tCO2e per capita by 2050 is a fantasy and politically undeliverable in North America. In a country where F150s are the best selling vehicle and air conditioned mac-mansions are prevalent, the culture will not accept this change.

Also, a lot of the cheer leaders, crowd followers and virtue signalers (you know who you are) for this change plus the Canadian property industry should take a close look at themselves, they build low performance property, drive and fly everywhere, have V6 and V8 cars parked in front of their 3000 sq ft homes in the suburbs and cottage country.

Nuclear power at scale (click here to see why ), removal of car and oil industry subsidies, investment in public transport and high performance building code are necessary steps to a low carbon economy. All difficult due to local and geo-politics. This leads me back to being an electrician.

To miss-quote the great one, “skate to where the puck is going”. Electrical infrastructure upgrades, eclectic vehicles and electrification of buildings means a high demand for skilled electricians. IMHO, the demand curve is perfect for a 25 year career arc as an electrician.

Other benefits of being an electrician n North America are:

  • high incomes,
  • benefits if unionized (BTW: in North America, unions control this labour market),
  • generally going home on time,
  • not participating in “cubicle life”,
  • transferable skills to any country in the world.

I believe the future belongs to skilled artisans and trades people.

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer



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