No Green Solutions

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A recent letter to the Roanoke, VA Times says that those who advocate ending the use of fossil fuels haven’t yet come up with solutions to our nation’s energy needs.

He’s right, but that isn’t exactly the point.

What IS the point is that using our current energy sources degrades the environment ever more, which makes our civilization unsustainable.

First, he says, we need to figure out how many solar collectors and windmills are needed, and where they should be constructed. That makes sense. Then he says that nuclear power can’t be considered because of hysteria about nuclear energy. There, I must disagree. Nuclear power shouldn’t be considered until we have an effective way of disposing of nuclear waste, which has half-lives of hundreds of thousands of years. Otherwise nuclear power is just a trade-off to a system no more benevolent than our current one.

Batteries, he says, no matter how much the technology is improved, still have to be charged. If the source is dirty, they’re not much of an improvement. Also true.

He also calls resistance to fracking a “witch-hunt”, saying that fracking for natural gas is at least cleaner than strip-mining for coal. I think that’s debatable, to say nothing of the amount of water needed, or the unknown long-term consequences of injecting that amount of water deep into the earth. Not to mention the chemicals used in the water so injected. Are those chemicals entirely benevolent? I don’t know. Does the author?

Yes, the green movement hasn’t yet come up with ideas that can readily be implemented, but we already know that our existing power system contributes greatly to the pollution that is destroying the ecology of the world, and therefore our ability to survive. Instead of rewarding the polluters, why not subsidize a search for a truly safe energy? Otherwise we’d better be ready for the end of civilization as we know it, and possibly the end of our species as well. Poisoning our environment is poisoning ourselves.

The writer promises to listen to the green movement only when it comes up with implementable solutions. I think we’d do better to at least BEGIN listening now, so we can be part of the solution. Waiting only increases the inevitability of disaster.

But many people haven’t wanted to listen to predictions that have been made since well before I was born. We seem to have streams of destruction converging that make cataclysm inevitable. Not only in the area of ecology, but in all our politics and economics.

It is as much a pragmatic question as it is moral. If we can only get what we want through poison, there’s something wrong with what we want. Why is there something wrong with what we want? Because, I would presume, of what we worship. If profit is our only goal and ethic, then any means of realizing profit is allowable. Or as Hassan i Sabbah, a leader of the Assassins, supposedly put it, “Nothing is true, everything is permissible.”

If that’s the case, then there is no consequence for denying climate change and human contribution to it. There’s nothing wrong with anything that anyone considers unjust. Slavery is as permissible a means of profit as anything else. So is fraud.

Yes, the green movement needs plans that can be implemented. The rest of us need to do some soul-searching.

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