Thursday, April 21, 2011

Politics of Green Energy : Propagating Ignorance via Ideology

Humans are hopelessly spiraling toward their own demise — thank politics for speeding the process!  For being the supposed smartest animals on the planet, we sure do everything in our power to prove our ability to ignore fact in favor of ideological beliefs and opinion.  Science and technological advancement is wonderful: as long is it does not surface data that challenges the merits of our individual pursuits — especially the pursuit of "profit".

I am so completely disgusted with the politics of green-energy (or should I say the politicization of green-energy, and the outright disregard for fact — a nice way of saying "lies") as propagated by proponents of existing, carbon-intensive, and ecologically destructive sources of energy.  As is with most ideologically-driven hyperbole, hypocrisy runs rampant throughout the "logic" employed to "defend" what should be nearly indefensible positions for the continued push to use fossil fuels while global CO2 levels soar in direct relation to the combustion of those fuels.

Let me begin by recognizing the fact that not ALL "right leaning" (Republican / conservative / etc) backers agree with the illegitimate position that humans are not responsible for climate change.  In fact, some very noteworthy Republicans, conservative business-leaders, and wealthy individuals are very adamant in their promotion of green energy and ending the human self-destruction that is occurring as a result of fossil-fuels consumption.  But,...

I just read this article about how Americans are split on what is causing global climate change; and, you perhaps you already guessed how they are split: right down political-party lines!  If you consider yourself a Republican (i.e., conservative) you are statistically almost certain to believe the rhetoric spewed by party leaders that push concepts proven utterly false... things like blaming "natural causes" for climate change.  Again, this is PROVEN false, PROVEN!  But, politics make proof become "proof"; science that does not reinforce a politically-motivated position is suddenly just "science"; and so on.

Never mind the fact (and transcripts that back it up from the Bush/Cheney era) that the Republican party's entire strategy for exploiting their political base (to keep carbon-intensive energy running full-steam ahead) was to simply create DOUBT.  It worked.  Many of their followers only needed the slightest suggestion of "doubt" that climate change was due to human activities; they now had what the party leadership desired most: a "position" to cling to regardless of all the true evidence and science to the contrary.  This self-engineered doubt is all they continue to need to reject the fact that human activity is plunging this world into a state of unprecedented CO2 buildup and associated climate change.

Never mind the fact we can use the carbon isotope-typing to analyze atmospheric CO2 concentrations and determine that the CO2 came directly and unequivocally from human activity and the burning of plant-sourced matter (i.e., coal, oil, natural gas) and NOT from things like volcanoes and other ridiculous explanations (whose CO2 emissions produce a different isotope signature).  All the proof just becomes "proof" when ignorance is reinforced via ideology.  It truly is a shame, as we will all pay the price for this ignorance regardless of our political affiliations.

Perhaps we should get to the root-cause of this politicization of climate-change and the creation of any alternative "theory" of climate-change: MONEY!  That's right... like every human activity that goes contrary to common-sense and proof that an activity is bad for us as a whole, money lies at the root of this discussion.  The foot soldiers (i.e., the political masses) that quickly render their backing (by way of votes) to those pushing a particular agenda that is contrary to scientific evidence will likely realize little, if any, economic gain by lending their support to those at the top.  But, there are certainly many individuals and corporations that stand to profit handsomely if we continue to ignore human-induced climate change and continue to embrace CO2-intensive energy sources.

There is a lobbying force (i.e., money) that is intent on keeping their carbon-based cash-cow pumping out not just more money but also more CO2, and they will do anything to continue to ensure they have the votes to protect them and their climate-altering activities; all courtesy of ideological splits among the populace.  Their hope is that you turn off your brain and embrace the ideological ignorance that continues to reign supreme — never mind the fact that we are creating what is likely to be irreversible damage to this planet we all live on.  Never mind that no amount of money will ever make up for the fact that we will have doomed the planet in the process.
 
Now, let us discuss some of that hypocrisy that always accompanies such ideology.  One of the first things we hear is that going green is "too expensive".   Sure, wind and solar and geothermal may appear relatively expensive compared to other energy sources when the cost of environmental-destruction is left out of the equation, but when included, green alternatives are VERY competitive, and they are increasingly becoming more efficient and more competitive at the same time CO2-producing energy is, and will continue to be, increasingly expensive if the true costs of CO2 emissions are considered in the equation.  Solar technology is rapidly evolving and becoming cheaper and more efficient; wind turbines are becoming larger, more efficient, and thus more competitive also.

And, when considering the true cost of burning fossil fuels and the cost (via environmental damage and alteration from CO2 and other toxic emissions), the worst CO2 offender is COAL burning power plants.  The coal industry knows this and knows they have to create yet another lie to sell the public and get the votes to keep their profits rolling in, so they have coined this "clean coal" concept as their solution.  Sounds great does it not?  "Clean" coal.  Sure.  Wonderful.  But, then there is the fact that there is NO SUCH THING and not a single coal-burning power plant is in existence that is not emitting CO2.  And, to capture CO2 from coal-burning is EXPENSIVE and it takes MORE energy (as much as 1/3 of the total fuel burnt generating power will go to power sequestration if we are to capture all the CO2 produced from the plants) and an insanely complex infrastructure to implement.  This WILL end up on your electric bill!  And, of all the insane and desperate acts that humans could undertake, "clean coal" (and similar carbon-capture schemes) ranks number one.  Investing in such a dead-end is not "investing"... it is flushing money; but, for as long as you are willing to flush it into the coffers of the coal-industry, they will willingly take it.

Next there is the "clean" natural gas crowd.  Sure, it produces 1/2 the CO2 emissions as coal burning, but where is that gas coming from and what emissions are involved in the acquisition of that "clean" natural gas?  Watch the movie Gasland for starters and you will soon understand that this is anything but a "clean" fuel... hydraulic fracturing technology is what is enabling this (lie known as) "clean" natural gas, and it is causing widespread release of hydrocarbons and chemicals into the air and groundwater.  But, money rules the world and the natural gas boom throughout the USA is producing enough cash to retain the number of votes they need to continue this toxic energy pursuit.

We do not have the resources to waste on existing dead (and deadly) technologies while the remainder of the world passes us by with renewables.  As we flush our money (or, should I say other people's money - since so much of our money is *debt*) down the drain on carbon-intensive energy production, we are flushing our future simultaneously.  The politics of energy production are making us waste valuable time and money on unsustainable carbon-based technologies when we could be truly investing (where spending our money will produce a return in the longer term and not just go, quite literally, up in smoke as we burn carbon-fuel sources instead).

Please consider the true cost of carbon-based energy sources in any comparison to green-energy that you make.  Take time to understand the science behind energy production (and associated emissions).  And, get the facts about how much power is hitting this planet every day just in the form of sunshine, which we CAN easily harness for our power needs.   There is an amazing abundance of alternative energy available to us; what is not available in abundance is the propagation of this fact and the associated facts about human activity causing global climate change and CO2 rise.   I sure hope humans can overcome political ideology before it is too late.

1 comment:

Lars Olson said...

Even if there were natural causes, such as hot sun spots and sun flares causing global warming (fluctations in sun behavior) and even if we were not the ultimate cause of global warming, what would be the risk if we stopped using so much oil and found alternative energies such as star power or quiet wind turbines... what would be a disadvantage of converting to new energy sources? There would be no disadvantage, so even if someone is a republican and they think it is because of natural causes, there still is no reason to continue using oil if an alternative is available.

The problem has been that wind turbines are noise pollution and visual pollution, and star power for whatever reason doesn't seem to be making much progress (national ignition facility). Second law violating devices such as Daniel Sheehan's diode in san fransisco seem to be far fetched ideas to replace oil, but they may work.

If some technology such as star power on earth, or second law violating devices were possible, I bet there would still be people wanting to use fossil fuel. It seems like religious people want to use fossil fuel since God put the fossil fuel here for us to utilize. After all, if God put it here, why shouldn't we use what God gave us? Being an agnostic and non religious person myself, I find the religious right to be pathetic.