Let the Sun Shine: Fact versus Fiction —Michael G. Noll

LTE in the VDT today. I’ve added a few links. -jsq

Fox News recently claimed that “solar won’t work in America because it’s not as sunny as Germany”. Such statements are common for a network that has long lost its credibility. Unfortunately too many take such gibberish at face value. Thus columns like “environmentalism or obstructionism?” are not surprising, but in the end it’s the facts that matter:

  • Global warming is real. For years we have been experiencing record heat waves, droughts, wild fires, etc., and while seawater levels are rising, storms like hurricane Sandy become major threats to low lying areas along coast lines.
  • The main culprit for global warming are greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal and oil.
  • While China overall emits more than we do, the US leads in per capita emissions. The average US citizen produces three times more carbon dioxide than the average Chinese citizen.
  • Nuclear power is too expensive, wastes too much water, and bears too many risks. Thus the number of shutdown nuclear plants is rising, and most energy companies are investing in other forms of energy production to meet demands.
  • Fracking (used to extract natural gas from shale) wastes enormous amounts of water and bears significant risks for people and the environment. To quote Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club:
    “Fracking enjoys exemptions from parts of … the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. If fracking is so safe, why can’t the industry be held to the same standards as everyone else?”
  • An immediately available source of energy is energy conservation and efficiency (up to 30 percent). We are not only one of the world’s largest polluters, we are also one of its most wasteful societies.

Renewable forms of energy like wind and solar don’t pollute, don’t need water, are cheaper than nuclear, and work. Germany already covers 20 percent of its electricity needs via wind and solar. That number is projected to rise to 35 percent by 2020 and 65 percent by 2040. Perhaps Germany’s goals are too ambitious, but just imagine what we could do as we receive 70 percent more solar radiation. Add to that recent developments in the solar industry that allow us to store energy for times “when the sun don’t shine”, and the future looks bright, even at night (see Gemasolar in Spain).

Michael G. Noll, President

Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy