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Climate Change 

April 15, 2007

No Free Lunch

Climate change forces us to take a hard look at the choices we make and the choices ahead of us. There is a growing movement in the United States to pressure state and federal government to legislate changes that are relevant to global warming issues. For example, more than 3,000 people protested at a Hummer dealership yesterday here in the Bay Area. Auto makers have certainly been irresponsible in their development and marketing of low efficiency, high emissions vehicles, and their reluctance to engage in positive changes and dialog. But we must remember that corporations have a primary responsibility to their shareholders, and are all about making money. Thankfully, those auto makers operate successfully only because of the good will of one of the most powerful global market entities. Yes, I’m talking about us, the American consumers! The American consumer wields tremendous influence because of our purchasing power and our seemingly insatiable appetites. The positive spin on this is that we, individually and collectively, have the power to affect the problem of human-driven climate change. But we have to make choices, difficult choices, and they all have consequences.

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I’ve become aware recently of a growing trend among more affluent individuals to purchase efficient hybrid vehicles as an offset to their SUVs. Let me be blunt: That’s nonsense. You can only implement an offset if you actively remove a proportion of carbon emissions. I also tire of SUVs with “Sierra Club”, or “Save our environment” bumper stickers. Again, let me be blunt: If you really care, and that vehicle is not essential to your job, then don’t drive it. Replace it, or better yet, never buy one. Do I sound harsh to some of you? What about other choices? Should we support nuclear energy? Should we explore cleaner coal-fired energy plants? Are we willing to give up air-conditioning, fresh fruit in winter, and internet cafes? It certainly seems at this point that unless we Americans learn to curb our ever increasing energy consumption, that wind, solar etc. energy sources are simply not going to satisfy. How about the folks in the English midlands who fought, successfully, to not have wind energy farms installed because it would ruin the landscape for which the midlands are famous? I certainly hope that they support nuclear power. Tough choices, and a very complicated landscape. We must engage ourselves in these conversations, and explore all our alternatives and choices, and not rush into any of them. Which ones will work will depend ultimately on technology, cooperation, and the choices that we make as energy consumers. In this Universe, especially when it comes to energy, there is no free lunch.


Filed under: Climate Change — Peter @ 1:25 pm

1 Comment »

  1. You do bring up a good point that we are a very wasteful society when it comes to energy.
    You also bring up Nuclear energy. I actually work in that field and of the 2 dozen or so reactors in the U.S., only a handful are running and of that handful only about 2-6 will be running at the same time. Did you know that in the state of Arizona there are currently 3 reactors that are operational that could power the entire west coast if running simultaneously. However thier state legislature, due to public opinion, has passed laws to restrict only one to run at a time and at lowest levels possible. We really need to educate people about how the old horrors of nuclear energy where first off RUSSIAN reactors, second have been removed by safe guards set in place by the government. I lived in Nevada when they voted to stop the Yucca mountain disposal site. People are so uneducated about nuclear energy some thought if there was nuclear waste there it could explode on its own. Others were afraid of the radiation exposure as the waste was trucked to the site through rural towns. Have they seen those trucks? Made of the same components as a planes black box and internally shielded with a layer of lead. I work with the stuff and I know that being a NUCLEAR TECHNICIAN i will recieve less radiation from the uranium and waste than a construction worker will from the sun or an X-ray technician from just doing their job. Currently France actually gets all its electrical power from breeder reactors that use plutonium and sells the excess power to its neighbors, and it has yet to have any incidents. I could really go on all day about this but im starting to ramble. All i want people to do is get fully educated about the process, the waste disposal, the safeguards against the hazards, and that currently it is the most efficient source of energy. Anyone who knows the facts will support it. Oh and since the french use breeder reactors, they not only get lunch for free but they get two sandwiches for every one they eat.

    Comment by Adam — June 2, 2009 @ 6:36 am

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