Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Walters on Environmental Movement's Contradictions

The core belief of the environmental movement gives nature primacy over humanity—actually describing humans as a virus on the earth—and from that perspective, anything that contributes to human progress at the expense of nature is anathema.

In that context, supporting solar power but not power lines makes perfect sense.

Solar panels on the rooftops are cool, vast solar plants in the Mojave with power lines bringing the power to the power grid are not.

It's a contradictory policy position because the movement itself is based on contradiction.

Dan Walters: Greens like idea of renewable energy, balk at the reality
By Dan Walters -
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, April 23, 2008

An environmental coalition called Californians for Solar and Clean Energy has submitted more than 700,000 signatures for an initiative measure that would compel the state's utilities to use renewable sources for 40 percent of their electric power supplies by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025, a sharp increase in what the state's current policy requires.

The underlying notion is to reduce our reliance on carbon-generating fuels such as coal and natural gas and thus contribute to the fight against global warming.

Fair enough. If global warming is the threat to human life that we're being told it is, and reducing human-caused carbon emissions is the critical factor, then it will require big changes in the way we live, including how we generate and use energy.
As the coalition's name implies, solar is its preferred form of renewable energy – tapping the rays of the sun to create electricity through photovoltaic panels – although geothermal energy, utilizing heat from the Earth's core, is another source. And, as it happens, California is blessed with copious amounts of both sunshine and geothermal heat.

Merely generating energy from renewable, nonpolluting sources is one thing. Transmitting it from generation sites to where people live is another, and environmental groups that tout renewable energy often oppose transmission lines that would carry the power to homes and businesses, as a long-running battle over a project called "Sunrise Powerlink" illustrates.