Monday, May 3, 2010

Bleating on the Energy Soapbox

This oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a terrible thing.

Worse yet, it’s being used by all sorts of people to promote their own energy agendas.

I was almost one of them. I was halfway done preparing a screed on why the disaster in the gulf should be pushing us toward more reliance on nuclear power for energy production when this came across my desk.

The relevant quote: “We just haven’t seen a wind spill yet.”

And it’s hilarious. Off-the-wall. Pithy and oh-so-easy to print on a bumper sticker.

Of course it’s not true. Tornadoes and hurricanes are obviously wind spills on gargantuan scales. It was a stupid thing to say in the face of the environmental calamity taking place in the gulf. Which is why my nuclear screed went into the garbage can.

This kind of position posturing does nothing to help energy agendas. It just makes the people making the comparisons look foolish. Because here’s the reality:

Off-shore oil drilling, and on-shore oil drilling, will not only continue but increase until large-scale viable alternatives are found. And this won’t happen as long as blowhards like Bill Maher are telling us countries like Brazil are relying completely on sugar cane ethanol when they aren’t, and when we can say sugar cane ethanol production isn’t displacing other crops, which in turn displace that Amazon rain forest which is of course another environmental disaster caused, in part, by the alternative fuels industry.

We don’t needs bumper sticker mottoes. We need people and ideas for long-term energy independence. We need companies that are more committed to safety and ecology. We need political parties who will stop using their pet energy generators as footballs and put them in the business of finding alternative energy sources – solar, wind, nuclear – that are less threatening to the environment. We need less of the “Drill, baby, drill” mentality from the right and the “Iceland’s volcano is pooping emeralds because we’re flying less” mentality from the left.

We need less people chirruping about wind spills and voodoo-caused earthquakes and more people willing to say, yeah, we need cleaner energy. Here’s money to do it. Here’s ways to do it. Here’s places to do it – hear that, Nantucket Sound?

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