Sometimes it’s a little hard guessing what the people who seek “green” energy alternatives really want to accomplish.
Some of the most vociferous critics of fossil fuels have also started coming out against such renewable resources as wind, hydroelectric and solar power.
What’s wrong with wind energy? Well, those massive turbine blades can do excessive damage to migrating birds that might happen to fly into them.
“Birds and bats, and possibly beneficial insects such as butterflies, are killed in substantial numbers,” Eric Rosenbloom, president of National Wind Watch, told the Door County Advocate recently. “This toll is not mitigated by a greater benefit – our observation is that no significant or even measurable reduction of carbon emissions is caused by wind turbines on the grid.”
Hydroelectric power? Dams do create massive changes when they are first built, but how does one explain calls to tear down structures that have been providing electricity for millions of people for decades?
A campaign has been waged for years, for example, to remove four dams along the Klamath River in the Pacific Northwest, built between 1918 and 1962, because they blocked access to what were salmon spawning grounds many years ago.
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. drew some fire this spring when it attempted to alter the state budget to lift a cap that prevented the utility from buying electricity from a Canadian supplier of hydroelectric power.
While the proposal rightfully should be debated as a separate bill, not a budget item, lifting the cap could at least serve the purpose of alleviating Wisconsin’s dependence on burning fossil fuels for energy.
Even solar power has drawn some criticism because the large numbers of solar panels that would be needed could mar the landscape, destroy habitat, etc.
In a May 30 guest column in the Wall Street Journal, Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation – a think tank affiliated with libertarian Reason magazine – said the environmental movement always has been torn between “‘conservationists’ seeking to protect nature for man – and ‘preservationists’ seeking to protect nature for its own sake,” but that lately the preservationists have taken over.
That’s why even renewable energy sources are scrutinized as potentially harmful to the environment. It’s no longer enough that they free us from fossil fuels.
And forget nuclear power – despite the efforts of state Rep. Jim Soletski, D-Green Bay, who recently retired from the nuclear power industry, don’t look for the moratorium on nuclear plant construction to be lifted as long as Democrats control the state Senate and the governor’s office. The “no nukes” crowd is firmly in control there.
That pretty much leaves energy conservation as the only option everyone can agree on, and the challenge won’t be resolved simply by building more energy-efficient devices and turning off the lights in rooms we’re not using.
Either the “green” movement needs to lighten up on alternatives to fossil fuel or get used to the idea that we’re going to be burning a lot of coal and natural gas for the long haul.
6 June 2007
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