Happy Hobbit Day from Cosmos!
The Shire has become Middle-earth’s first region to run entirely on sustainably renewable energy for a year.
Five years ago, advocates in the Shire set up a hydroelectric generator harnessing the rivers that run through the region. The scheme was the brainchild of a well-respected gardener.
“I travelled a lot a few years back and realised how beautiful Middle-earth is,” says Samwise Gamgee, who implemented and led the scheme. “But I also realised how cruel people were to the land.
“When I came home, I knew we had to make sure we had a sustainable future.”
Gamgee says he was inspired by a piece of jewellery with which he spent much time during his travels.
“It was round – circular,” he says. “I wanted our economy to be like that. A ring economy…no, a circular economy.”
Mordor to adopt geothermal
The achievement has been well received across Middle-earth, and regions around Mordor are now establishing a grid run entirely on geothermal energy.
“Looks like renewable energy’s back on the menu, boys,” remarks Ugluk, an Uruk-hai leader who is also president of Renewable Initiatives for Ngāuruhoe Group (RING), a Middle-earth sustainability organisation.
“The age of oil is over. The time of geothermal has come.”
But their goal may not be easy.
“One does not simply walk into renewable energy,” says a spokesperson from the Borimir Resurrection Project in Gondor. “The Uruk-hai have a long way to go if they want to achieve what the hobbits did.”
Read More: Vaccine rollout to begin for Wookiees
Renewable Shire scheme criticised by Elves
But not everyone sees the Shire’s renewable energy scheme as a great achievement.
“These hobbits are receiving much praise,” says Thranduil, Elvenking of the Woodland Realm. “However, we know they famously discarded a precious metal in the fires of Mount Doom instead of melting it down and recycling it. That does not appear to be part of their so called circular economy.
“Such is the nature of evil. In time, all foul things come forth.”
He adds that the relative size of Mirkwood makes it much more difficult to transition to renewables.
“The Shire is small, it can manage on hydroelectric. It’s just not practical to do it at a larger scale.”
Gamgee disagrees with this. “I was told it just wasn’t practical to get the Shire on renewables when I started out. Sometimes, you have to take on a task, even if you do not know the way.
“I’m sure Mirkwood could follow in our footsteps, if there was will to do it.”
Prominent voices show support
Regardless, support for the achievement has been strong, with prominent figures advocating for more renewable energy schemes across Middle-earth.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future,” encourages Galadriel, Lady of the Woods of Lothlórien. “The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the science is true.”
Aragorn, King of Gondor, agrees: “This day does not belong to one man but to all. Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of renewable energy.”
Gamgee, who now hopes to rehabilitate Fangorn Forest, is humble about his achievement.
“It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish,” he says.
“I can’t carry renewable energy schemes for you, but I can carry you.”
Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.