Saturday, June 02, 2007

Renewable Energy Opponents

If you’ve ever wondered why anyone would have issues with the pursuit of a technology that preserves natural resources, minimizes pollution, curtails global warming, cuts transportation costs, makes wars for oil unnecessary, and reduces the amount of cash getting into the hands of terrorists, you’re not alone. It’s surprising to observe that people are quick to find fault with renewable energy technology, and often display a great deal of emotion when expressing their views.

A closer look at their objections reveals some reasons for this attitude:

· A natural resistance to change is one piece of the puzzle. Risk is inherent with change, and a fear of failure is understandable. A notion exists that actions by radical environmentalists will cause a collapse of the economy.

· We tend to want our children to have the same opportunities that we had. I remember the thrill of getting behind the wheel of a “muscle car” for the first time, and feeling the acceleration as I ran through the gears. You just have to love the sound of a well-tuned V-8 engine, and the thought of replacing that with the high-pitched whine of an electric motor is a bit much to accept. Could it be that those who hold on tightest to overpowered cars and drive monster trucks for no apparent reason are just compensating?

· Some are concerned that a rapid switch to plug-in electric vehicles will cause an overload of the electrical grid, causing even more misery for utility customers.

· Not everyone can afford to spend $25,000 for a Prius. A used Chevy Nova gets reasonably good gas mileage, and costs a heck-of-a-lot less. No one wants to be forced into a situation that doesn’t make economic sense.

To some, the solution to our energy problems includes stepping up oil exploration and production, including drilling off of the Gulf Coast and in the Anwar region. They believe that this will buy us time that could be used for the development of alternative technologies. Unfortunately little progress will be made in alternative technology as long as demand is low. Meanwhile, fossil fuel reserves will continue to decline. No good can possibly come from increasing our dependence on oil, even if we produce more locally.

You’ll likely find that the hard-core renewable energy opponents are among the 10% of the population who don’t believe that human activity contributes to global warming, and that peak oil is decades away. I find this optimism an ironic contrast to their pessimistic view of renewable energy technology.

We may be able to drill and mine our way to prosperity in the short-term, but eventually we’re going to have to do things differently. The longer we put it off, the harder it will be to make the transition. Once we learn to accept change, we’ll find that many opportunities for environmental progress exist throughout the country, most of which will have no adverse affect on the general population. The picture below is of Carlyle (Illinois) Lake and Dam, a good example of a renewable energy opportunity. The installation and use of hydro-electric generators here would have a positive environmental impact, with little or no negative consequences. I can’t imagine why this has not been done already.

Lake and Dam at Carlyle Illinois


1 comment:

d said...

It's always easy to rationalise against the dangers new things, but that is no better than superstition of course.

Thanks for the blog!