The Problem With Energy Alternatives…Bill Bes

Energy Alternative Issues
As an environmental activist and an author whose material is heavily influenced by environmental concerns, I always take a great interest in articles and books written by fellow writers. I especially take an interest in those who make an effort to point out that alternatives do exist. Vivian Song had an interesting article in the Sunday edition of the Sun, July 27th, titled—From pond scum to energy. Energy alternatives are taking center stage and rightfully so—without plentiful energy our society can not function, at least not as the same levels. The one thing left out of the equation of energy alternatives is not only the prohibitive cost factor, the negative impact on the environment or recklessly pandering to our notion that transportation without limitation is preferable over eating, but the simple fact of quantity. We consume horrendous amounts of energy, to drive, to eat, to heat, to produce, etc. I always like to stick with our city as an example, because you know our town, its history, its size and its potential. To put Vivian’s alternative to the test consider the impact of what she proposes, even if the cost came down and the infrastructure investment was made. Between 8,000 and 10,000 acres of land around our city or somewhere within Oxford County, would have to be set aside to produce enough “fuel” to replace the current quantity of oil we use per person per day—which stands at 10 liters per person in North America. This figure only relates to Miss Song’s solution, some of the other alternatives mentioned would require tenfold the acreage, or even more. This is oil replacement, this does not include our needs for electricity and heat! What we consistently fail to address is the fact that our chosen economic model does not cater to conservation, preservation, renewal, reduction, etc. Global markets continue to demand expansion and perpetual growth because it is profit driven. The contradiction lies in what we do versus what we ought to do. The emphasis in on consumption and extraction, not on conservation and preservation. We are living in fascinating times and we will witness horrendous shifts and changes, not following a pattern of reasoned change, but more than likely by hook and crook whether we like it or not. The switch from horse to car was relatively smooth because even a child could envision the benefits—turning a key, drive and park makes much more sense than, hitch, bump, feed, stoop and scoop and all of it in slow mow. Tapping into an underground source of found wealth and amazing energy potential was easy scenario to follow as well. That we are running out is not rocket science either and those who have kept track of past articles I have written on this subject ought to remember the fact that we didn’t start oil exploration until 1876, that the worldwide oil usage in 1945 stood at 9 million barrels a day and that in 2008 it shot up to more than 84 million barrels a day. Canadian oil sands barely produce a million barrels a day at a great environmental cost and compared to overall world use it represents a drop in the bucket. We not only need to re-examine our role and responsibility in the energy picture and what we can and should do, but most of all we need to acknowledge whether we’re serious about alternatives or not. Historically we have always preferred rhetoric over substance.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Posted September 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    fresh insight is always welcome

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