Futurist paints rosy picture for Red Deer

Asked to predict how we will live in the future, many envision ever-expanding cities packed with millions of people.

Axel Meisen: Alberta Research Council’s chair of foresight.

Asked to predict how we will live in the future, many envision ever-expanding cities packed with millions of people.

But it doesn’t have to be that way, suggests Axel Meisen, Alberta Research Council’s chair of foresight. And there is a good case to be made that it shouldn’t be that way if society is to manage its water, food and energy resources properly.

Meisen is involved with the council’s ambition to foster so-called “Next Generation Communities,” where people live and work with a minimal environmental impact, relying on local sources of water, food and energy.

Small towns and cities, such as Red Deer, are well-positioned to become Next Generation Communities and to shift away from the mega-urban development model that has evolved over centuries, said Meisen, at a luncheon by the Red Deer Rotary Club on Monday.

On the energy front, Red Deer is particularly well-placed to explore the potential of emerging technologies, such as geothermal energy. The technology involves harnessing the heat 10 km below the surface to produce steam that can be used to generate electricity.

A 440-metre-by-440-metre-by-100-metre slab of ground could produce enough power for a city the size of Red Deer, he said. Take an area 14 square km in size and enough electricity could be created to keep the lights on for 100 years.

“That’s a big potential and it’s carbon-free.”

Meisen said geothermal potential has been looked at closely in countries such as New Zealand and Iceland, where natural outcroppings have left water heated by the earth’s core closer to the surface. In Canada, no major geothermal projects are underway.

If geothermal technology is to be pursued, it will require expertise in drilling, fracturing underground rock formations and managing reservoirs — all common oilpatch skills.

“If Albertans are good at three things, it’s those three things,” he said.

Besides the potential to provide their own energy, smaller communities are better able to manage vital resources of food and water and could give them an advantage over big centres.

Agricultural irrigation is particularly susceptible to water loss, mostly through evaporation. It is estimated that 25 to 40 per cent of the water directed towards farm fields is lost before it gets there, he said. Food also falls by the wayside as it travels between farm and dinner table with as much as 20 per cent lost.

Communications advances, which allow people to work from home or to access health professionals, also removes major reasons people have traditionally sought out big cities, employment and services.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Central Alberta women donate grad dresses to families in need

Cha-ching – it’s grad season. Some central Alberta women know first hand… Continue reading

Red Deer man pleads guilty to role in 2015 stabbing

Daniel Boyd Sawyer sentenced in Calgary court to five years in prison for manslaughter

Photo: Celebrating Mother Earth in Red Deer

Women of all ages gathered to mark Earth Day

Man dead in ATV collision in central Alberta

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a quad rollover collision that left… Continue reading

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand “a roof too”

PARIS — Dozens of public housing advocates are protesting outside the gutted… Continue reading

Sri Lankan-Canadians mourn victims of terrorist attack in their homeland

Sri Lankan-Canadians were gathering Monday to mourn those killed in a massive… Continue reading

Residents along Saint John River told to remain on alert as floodwaters rise

FREDERICTON — People who live along New Brunswick’s Saint John River are… Continue reading

Prince Edward Island voters to cast verdict on new electoral system

CHARLOTTETOWN — Canadians are expected to learn late Tuesday whether the cradle… Continue reading

Early, photogenic iceberg raises expectations for Newfoundland’s season

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — This historic port city welcomed an unexpected early… Continue reading

Captain Ghislaine Landry leads Canada to victory at Kitakyushu Sevens

KITAKYUSHU, Japan — Captain Ghislaine Landry scored with no time remaining and… Continue reading

Marchand scores twice as Bruins force a seventh game with 4-2 win over Leafs

TORONTO — After a flying start in front of a raucous home… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan’s royal baby: Questions asked and answered

LONDON — The time is drawing near for the impending birth of… Continue reading

Prince memoir ‘The Beautiful Ones’ coming out in the fall

NEW YORK — The memoir Prince was working on at the time… Continue reading

Most Read