Saturday, April 19, 2008

Feasible Energy and Pipe Dream Energy-Who Decides?

My April Country Living magazine, sent by my electric coop, is full of the usual articles and ads. There is the article on rising energy costs, plus the rising costs of building new plants, there is the article on the importance of energy conservation, there is Doug the Caulk King explaining how proper house insulation saves energy, there is an ad for geo-thermal claiming a 70% energy saving just on heating and cooling.

And then there is the usual editorial dismissing all of the conservation efforts as meaningless, and the high costs of energy production as unavoidable. It is very solemnly announced billions must be spent on new transmission systems and power plants. Nuclear power is treated with reverence, as the panacea for all of our problems. Billions of dollars for coal sequestration is treated as a logical solution, instead of being laughed off as a Rube Goldberg contrivance to suck money from taxpayers and energy users.

In our irrational economic system, logic is turned upside down. Black is white, war is peace, and local power production, coupled with conservation and sound building practices is dismissed as impractical, while billion dollar boondoggles are held up as sane investments. And yes, for the profit takers, billion dollar tax supported boondoggles are great investments. But for the average citizen, struggling to make ends meet, paying more of our shrinking dollars to support billionaire energy investors is not such a good deal.

Simply announcing that it is impossible to use less energy doesn't make it so. Every day, as I come into my workplace, I open the door that is human propelled, while 99% of the other workers push the button to make the other door open with electricity. I turn off 2 bathroom lights, one of the 2 utility room lights, and put the copier on energy saving as I walk to my station. The rest of my shift I turn off unnecessary lights. That's in one workplace. I have no control over the thermostat. We freeze in the summer from over air conditioning and sweat in the winter from over heating.

New McMansions are rising everywhere out of cornfields. Invariably, they are unprotected from the sun. No awnings, no roof overhangs, no trees. And we are supposed to believe that it is rational to build like this, and we must then build new power plants to air condition them? Why does Country Living allow the editorializers to aver such propaganda unopposed?

We are told that Americans will not give up any electrical conveniences, so we must cater to them. What about the Americans watching their children gasping for breath from asthma, exacerbated by air pollution? What about the Americans who can't eat fish due to mercury contamination? What about the Americans exposed to acid rain? What about the Americans having their homeland blown up for mountain top removal of coal? What about Americans drowning from hurricanes, floods and tornadoes? How many people in Southern Illinois have been displaced by the recent floods? Which Americans do we cater to? I don't believe that ordinary Americans would let their fellow Americans suffer so that they can waste electricity.

It would be cheaper to build more wisely, conserve energy, use energy efficient appliances and have a solar panel on every house, than it would be to build giant power plants, with miles of transmission lines. We are told that America has enough coal for 100 years, so it's rational to use it. America has enough wind and sun to last a billion years! Why isn't it rational to use that?

Lastly, we have had our rights stolen from us under the guise of anti-terrorism. I am now treated like a potential criminal by the government if I want to travel, or enter a public building. And yet, the same government is pushing building giant terrorist targets, using energy supplied by the people we are told are out to get us. This is the height of irrationality! Either give me my rights back, or stop depending on centralized power plants.

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