Star Wars, Concerned Scientists, and the Wisdom of Yoda: The Force Awakens… and It’s About Time

, Senior energy analyst | November 20, 2015, 9:21 am EDT
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I don’t know where the new Star Wars movie is going to take us, what new planets and new races we’ll learn about. It’s pretty clear, though, that their world(s) and ours are connected in a whole lot of ways, and that the wisdom of that galaxy far, far away works just fine right here at home.

Connecting to a galaxy far, far away

"Yoda Empire Strikes Back" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -

The Sage of Dagobah. Photo: Fair use via Wikipedia

Star Wars came into the world at a pretty important time in my childhood. A New Hope (back then it was just “Star Wars”) was one of the first science fiction movies I saw as a youngster, and helped kindle my fascination with other worlds, strange creatures, and hyperspace travel (and maybe intergalactic jazz).

The world of Wookiees reentered my life as I grew into fatherhood—in my kids’ birthday cakes, Halloween costumes, Lego Star Wars, and more.

Now Star Wars is even entering my work life. Thanks to Oscar Isaac, who stars as ace X-wing pilot Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens, the Union of Concerned Scientists itself is now one step closer to the world of Star Wars.

For a new contest, Star Wars: Force for Change,  has launched in the lead-up to next month’s premiere. As part of the contest, Isaac and other stars got to pick one non-profit each to benefit from the promotion. And the one he picked? UCS.

Pretty exciting stuff for those of us who are fans of both Star Wars and this fine organization.

Yoda’s words: Wisdom for today

The Millennium Falcon and captain prepare for lightspeed (Credit: J. Rogers)

The Millennium Falcon and captain prepare for lightspeed (Credit/baker: J. Rogers)

In other ways, the connections between the two worlds are actually all around us, if we know where to look; Star Wars has the power to bestow on us great new pearls of wisdom that connect to many aspects of our lives.

The new movie will doubtless provide examples of this, but there’s nothing like the tried and true to light the way. Particularly the words of the pint-size master of sagacity and poignancy, Yoda himself.

His sayings speak to us even now—including, or maybe especially, to those of us active in the energy space. Here are just a few examples of how Yoda-isms connect to our world:

  • “Always in motion is the future.” As Yoda clearly sensed in speaking thusly to us across time and space, we’re at a point of tremendous and exciting transformation in how we make (and use) energy, and the future so unmistakably holds much, much more.
  • “Already know you that which you need.” In the energy sector, so much of what is needed is obvious; addressing the downsides of our electricity system, from pollution to water use to climate change, isn’t rocket science. We know that we need to do better, and we know that we can.
  • “Size matters not.” – Just as Yoda’s stature was no barrier to his overcoming every challenge, new technologies that provide electricity at much smaller scales per unit (and without pollution)—think solar panels or wind turbines—are giving the behemoths of the old way, the gigawatt-scale centralized power plants, a run for their money. (And the very fact of their size and their distributed nature offers additional benefits to cheer.)
  • “Much to learn you still have.” Even so, there’s room for innovation, for new technologies, or for technologies in new locations. What we need is a policy environment that makes it clear that, while we have plenty of tools to move forward with even now, we put a high value on innovation for climate and energy progress.
  • “When 900 years old you reach, look as good, you will not.” Yeah, let’s face it: that’s true for just about any us—humans or power plants. So that means we’re going to want to pick up the pace on all these good and important energy transformations.

Wisdom all around, from Yoda’s world to ours.

R2-D2 and a Jawa, with Dora la Exploradora (ignore the guy in the mask) (Credit: J. Rogers)

R2-D2 and a Jawa, with Dora la Exploradora (ignore the guy in the mask) (Credit: J. Rogers)

Feel the Force

I’m excited about the UCS connection to the new Star Wars movie through Oscar Isaac. I won’t let this brush with celebrity go to my head, though (much); I’ll keep working with my colleagues and UCS’s supporters across the country to put rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems.

I will, though, watch The Force Awakens intently for additional insights into our own world, from Jedi or others. And I’ll hope to find inspiration and energy to up my UCS game.

Because, while the fate of that galaxy is in the hands of the next generation of Jedi, the future of our world is in the hands of each of us. We need to Feel the Force of our collective action.

So, may the Force be with you. Along with healthy helpings of science, technology, and ambition to bring about a healthy and safer world. It’s the only planet we’ve got… for now.

Posted in: Energy

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