Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going green

We use a lot of energy. This has been possible because of the energy density of fossil fuels — coal, oil, methane (natural gas). But the consequence has been a continuing decimation of the environment, not only due to extracting and burning these fuels, but also because of the massive human population they have been able to support, which simply crowds out other life, flora as well as fauna.

And now oil is running out. Obviously, extraction of the other fossil fuels also can not go on forever.

Hence the clamor for biofuels (plant-derived ethanol and diesel, even jet fuel) and renewable energy (wind and solar). We would have to ramp these up dramatically if we are to meet our future energy needs without depending on fossil fuels (or nuclear, with its own set of limitations and consequences).

But biofuels require taking crop land away from growing food, or mowing down new swathes of forest for temporarily lucrative monocultures. And the energy in the wind and sun is extremely diffuse, requiring massive plants (measured in square miles rather than acres) to collect any significant amount. Even then the sun sets each night, and the wind is intermittent and highly variable, requiring more build-up for storage and for tying together very widely separated facilities with the hope of providing some measure of steady power.

This is madness.

Just as more humans simply means fewer other species, our use of more green energy means even less for other life on the planet. At least fossil fuels aren't being used by others; "green" fuels are. The more we take, the less other lives have.

On a large scale, renewable energy is more harmful to life on earth than fossil fuels. It is madness to think that the wind and the sun can replace coal and oil and nuclear.

The only way to minimize the impacts of our energy use is to minimize our energy use.

Instead of ramping up large-scale wind and solar to meet our energy needs, we need to ramp down our energy needs to meet reality.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism