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

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month