Brian O'Leary says there are clean, cheap solutions to the energy crisis we are facing. He is on a mission to persuade anyone who'll listen that the unconventional is what just may save us.
Every day we feel the effects of the energy crisis, whether it be rising petrol prices, shack fires caused by paraffin stoves falling over, or polluted air from the exhaust fumes we breathe in.
So it's tantalizing to imagine being able to have a small power pack that you can hold in your hand, which would provide enough energy to run your house and car, and at the same time is friendly to the environment, and better still, cheap. That, says Brian O'Leary, is already in the realm of the possible, but it won't happen unless someone, whether it be governments or an altruistic funder, puts money into developing it.
O'Leary is the founder of the New Energy Movement, a small voice in the world of many-trillion dollar oil economy. He's not talking material rich alternatives like wind power and solar energy.
The solutions to our pending energy crisis, says O'Leary, will require us to wake-up before it's too late. Oil supplies are limited and burning it is producing devastating climate changes and the rise in sea levels. Nuclear energy is also not the answer.
O'Leary is author of many book, his most recent being 'Reinheriting the Earth'. He started his career as a NASA scientist/astronaut. "As a child I was motivated by awe and wonder to explore my universe, and I wanted to go to space long before there was a space programme. People thought I was crazy."
The space programme became reality, and he trained as an astronaut. He was due to go into space in 1967, but the Vietnam war intervened. O'Leary went on to become professor of astronomy and space science at Cornell University in the United States, researching planetary physics and energy policy.
When he was about 40 he had some psychic and near-death experiences. "My whole paradigm blew open," he says, "after I realized there was much more to reality than I was teaching, my learning took a sharp bend." But being open to the metaphysical made him a persona non grata in academia. "If I'd known what I was getting into I wouldn't have done it," he says. His professional identity was in tatters. "They basically ignored me."
He published a number of books, written for the general public, in which he explored those experiences which lay outside western science. He also traveled the world, visiting leading consciousness researchers involved in metaphysical exploration. "It was very exciting the re-awakened my sense of awe and wonder. And I gradually became aware of the serious problems of the earth and that we didn't have much time left if we kept on doing what we are doing."
And so began his search for solutions to environmental energy problems. No one needs to be reminded about global warming, the fact that oil reserves are to run out in 50 years time and the heavy toll pollutants are taking on our health.
In the late 1990s there was intense research into alternative new energy resources, he says. "I was amazed that many promising clean energy sources had successfully been shown to be viable. I travelled to the best and brightest of these inventors. And then I grew to realize that just as in the history of science, bold new ideas are ridiculed and suppressed at first. Few people realize the enormous potential we have to develop energy sources that are clean, cheap, decentralized and safe. Then I became very disillusion, as i discovered that these sources of energy had been suppressed, sometimes violently."
He call it the classical fundamentalism of science. The more important the discovery, the more the resistance.
It's a difficult task, acknowledges O'Leary: "There are two superpowers on the planet - the United States government and their multinational cronies - and everybody else. I identify with everybody else."
"I tried to speak out, I was muzzled. The closer I get to the truth, the further from my culture I am pushed."
What O'Leary is talking about goes beyond solar, hydrogen and other renewable sources of energy. "They have their own problems, they are material and capital intensive, expensive and intermittent, he says. Two sources of energy he has seen being tapped are zero-point energy and cold-fusion. Both are highly complex to explain, but physicists acknowledge the existence of their reality and successful experiments with this energy. With what we know already and some research and development, which ill cost a fraction of what we give the military, we can for example, commercially develop power."
"We're not yet at the point of it being successfully commercialized. That will take a lot of engineering - it's a bit like expecting the Wright brothers to build a Boeing with what they knew. The trouble is that those who come close to commercialization are debunked, assassinated and are not supported. We need an altruist to come forward with funding. Venture capital is not interested until this comes closer to being commercially available."
"His hope is that just like we are waking up to healthy ways of living in our body, we will wake up to the health of the earth. "Through the New Energy Movement I hope to do that for energy and environment. I'm here in South Africa to plant seeds. There are answers."
The first step, he believes, is to become educated.
"It's vitally important - we can't go on the way we have been. We have a choice now, either to slip further into the social suicide from our current energy practices or move into a new energy climate."
His movement was only established six months ago and his idea is to form alliances wherever he can, to get the public voice moving, and to get funding for the new energy.
"I want a declaration of independence," he says.
O'Leary will be holding a full day workshop - "Awakening to Sustainable Solutions and Greater Truths" - on Saturday at the Goldfields Hall at Kirstenbosch and a mini-workshop "New Paradigms of Science and Global Transformation" - on Monday April 5. To book phone 021-689-7788 or 072 264 4140.
Jeanne Viall / Feature Writer