Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Ugliness of Going Green on Energy

If you talk to the environmentally active, those tree-huggers, they will point to the ugliness of burning fossil fuels to create energy for the world we all live in. They look at the ugliness of strip-mining for coal. They point to the toxic and carbon dioxide (CO2) spewing power plants that use coal, natural gas, or oil. They point to oil spills. Then, there are those ugly oil rigs on both the land and offshore. And, all those cars, trucks, and, especially, those SUV's.

But, what most of the novice "greenies" don't seem to understand is how ugly the alternatives are to fossil fuels. That is because the actual creation of the renewable fuel has to be moved from god-created and below-ground sources to the "above-ground" man-made sources that will infringe on the landscape of America. Right now, whether it is oil, natural gas, or coal, these forms of energy resources are well "out-of-sight" and far below ground. Billions of acres of these fuels are "hidden" below the surface of the earth.

Believe me, the true greenies don't really want renewable resources like wind, solar, and biofuels. That is why, for example, they, along with RFK, Jr. and Ted Kennedy, fought the establishment of a wind turbine farm off the coast of Hyannis Port, Mass. Wind turbines, in order to be effective, stand about 100 feet or more in height and are almost as equally wide. Hundreds of them must be "peppered" over hundreds acres of land in order to have any substantial dent in the offsetting of power generated by fossil fuel power sources. They are ugly. They are loud and noisy. And, they endanger birds and other wild life. So, that is why, when someone like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton says they want to create "green collar" jobs to install green technologies like wind, solar, and biofuels, they just aren't dealing with reality. You can seriously count on Greenpeace, World Wildlife Federation, and the Sierra Club to fight tooth-and-nail (in court) to stop the advancement of "green" technologies. And, don't forget the NIMBY (Not in my backyard) effect. Everyone wants clean and renewable sources of fuel; but, not near their house or neighborhood or community!

And, it isn't just wind turbines. Solar panels are just as ugly. And, like turbines, they will need to be "plastered" all over the landscape of America to make any significant dent in fossil fuel usage. Can you imagine a third of this country totally covered with black panels to retrieve the power from the sun.

The same is true with biofuels. Right now, we produce ethanol from corn. It takes millions of acres of land to produce the mere 6 billion gallons of ethanol that we produce today. And, those acres of corn are only "harvested" but once a year. Americans require nearly 156 billion gallons of fuel per year to run their autos, buses, and trucks; mostly in the form of gasoline. Best case, you can get about 250 gallons of ethanol from each acre of corn. In order to supply our current demands, you would need 624 million acres of farm land to produce enough ethanol to satisfy our current needs. Unfortunately, this country only has about 350 million acres of land for farming and only half of that is "quality" farm land. We lose 100,000 acres of land each year to soil erosion and human expansion. So, to satisfy our gasoline needs, we would need "at least" twice as much land for corn as we have now for all of our farming activity. (click for farm land statistics). For sure, it takes a lot of "above ground" land area to create biofuels. Do you think the "greens" are going to let America expand into Federally reserved lands and National Park lands in order to get enough land to satisfy our energy needs? I don't think so!

Even hydrogen, the fuel of the future, needs to be "derived" from something. With the current technologies, the only real way to "economically" produce hydrogen is to produce if from fossil fuels. So, hear we are again, stuck with coal, oil and natural gas. It is almost unavoidable to ignore the these natural commodities as the source for our energy.

Like it or not, we are "not" going to "green" ourselves out of the energy quagmire that we now find ourselves in. The ugliness of doing so and the lack of land for all these "green" technologies makes that impossible. Despite all the "elect-me" rhetoric of the Democrats running for office, the reality of a non-oil dependent and fossil-fuel-free America is almost impossible; given our current technologies. We had better find ways to drill for more oil in this country. We need to expand a cleaner use of coal power. And, we need to seriously invest in atomic energy or the money we need for food will be used up in buy foreign oil.

No comments: