Renewables, Maybe Not Answer Today, Are Wave Of The Future

Letters

Renewables, Maybe

Not Answer Today,

Are Wave Of The Future

To the Editor:

Mike Zagata’s column of Jan. 10-11 expresses perspectives that are fast becoming archaic. To suggest renewables aren’t ready to replace gas is short-sighted, parochial and myopic.
Of course, the 5,000 flights a day that circle the earth can’t by powered by green energy, but that’s exactly the point. Conserving them now will insure availability later.
The gas and oil reserves will have to yield some day to alternate energy (the earth isn’t making them as fast as they are being consumed – not by a long shot), so wouldn’t it be wise to begin now to wean the global society off oil, so reserves will remain when they are essential?
Vision of future needs has proven to be obsolete repeatedly through human history, most recently in the last century when horse-powered transportation was deemed a pollutant in cities that had to clean streets of manure in favor of gasoline-powered cars.
Essential as that shift was, just one century later the innovation of the past has become the pollutant of today, as witnessed by contamination of the atmosphere with exhaust fumes leading to an accelerated climate warming.
Too often the legitimate issue of contamination from conventional energy sources is politicized, so if Obama proposed it, it is rescinded. Likewise, ill-informed perspectives are taken for fact.
Let’s do a fact-check on the viability of solar power. It isn’t necessary to supply an entire city with electricity from solar panels to see the virtues of that energy source. Solar panels spread across miles of desert terrain in the Southwest serve
needs that would otherwise consume fossil fuels, and
they don’t contaminate our environment.
The need of a modern global society for hydrocarbons is conspicuous. It got that way for good reasons. For decades, oil was available and the oil industry convinced us there were no alternatives. Do you need an example? Just ask what happened to the electric-car industry of the ’50s and the power of the oil industry will be conspicuous.
Fundamental to this issue is the inability of Americans to see beyond their own individual needs. That has a time component that leads to shortsighted thinking in many ways. For example, more than 50 percent of Americans think climate change is a problem, and almost as many attribute the problem to human activity.
But because the ramification of a warming climate (and the list is long) will not affect them directly in their lifetime, the problem is left for future generations to solve. That’s right – just sweep it under the rug for someone else to deal with.
One hundred years ago we learned from John Muir that everything in the human environment is connected – you can’t touch anything in the living environment without ultimately touching everything. The scope of time and space clearly eludes many who think issues aren’t important if they don’t have a direct influence on them, as clearly illustrated by Mr. Zagata’s column.
The development of renewables may not be the answer now at this time, but it sure is a step in the right direction for the future. You can cover a lot of ground one step at a time.

P. JAY FLEISHER
Geologist
Milford


One thought on “Renewables, Maybe Not Answer Today, Are Wave Of The Future

  1. Roger Caiazza, Meteorologist

    After reading Zagata’s column and Fleisher’s response I cannot help wonder if Fleisher understood the point of the column. Zagata argues that we need viable alternatives to fossil fuels before we can replace them. Fleisher says it is a step in the right direction and implies that we should proceed.
    Unfortunately, New Yorkers are going to have to decide for themselves whether the State should follow the pragmatic path advocated by Zagata or the Fleisher’s suggestion that we should implement renewables even if they are not ready. The Governor’s Green New Deal proposes a mandate of 100 percent clean, carbon-free electricity in New York State by 2040. In order to do that New York will have to implement massive amounts of renewable energy that Zagata and I do not think is ready.
    Fleisher suggests that we do a fact check of solar power and states that “Solar panels spread across miles of desert terrain in the Southwest serve needs that would otherwise consume fossil fuels, and they don’t contaminate our environment”. Let’s fact check the solar power in New York that is necessary for the Governor’s carbon-free electricity goal. Studies have shown that after 25 years more energy is required to manufacture, install, & maintain solar panels than the solar panels will produce above latitude 35N (approximately the southern border Tennessee). That does not make energy sense. While solar panels will not contaminate our environment the rare earth minerals used in currently available solar panels have serious environmental consequences where they are mined and there will be a significant disposal problem when all those panels die of old age.
    Bottom line, Fleisher’s emotional argument that we should proceed with renewables because someday they might work even if they aren’t ready now may signal virtue but they also don’t make energy or environmental sense. Sadly we don’t have viable alternatives at this time so I agree with Zagata. We must have viable alternatives before proposing to eliminate fossil fuels.

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