Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Renewable Illusion

The Renewable Illusion

The renewable energy crowd creates a dangerous illusion. The illusion that middle class life can continue at some level of luxury and ease all over the world. That electricity for motors, electronics and lights will be available continually. That using “renewable” energy, we are not assaulting the earth’s resources and other life forms. That because it is “renewable”, it is clean and green. That because it is “sustainable”, it can go on indefinitely.

This belief that so-called renewables can replace fossil fuels does not look at the total process. To create the devices that capture the sun or wind, we use fossil fuels and toxic chemicals to mine, process, fabricate, manufacture and transport materials. The earth is gouged, rivers polluted, and air sullied. Given the amount and type of energy needed to get the end product, these devices are not renewable or green or clean or environmentally safe or sustainable.

This illusion of sunshine “business as usual” blinds the future. I lived off-the-grid for 30 years. The first ten I did not have electricity. I pumped my water into a retaining tank above for gravity feed, cooked with wood, heated with wood, when making my house I sawed the wood by hand, I got my psychology degree using kerosene lamps. When I finally put up both photovoltaics and wind, I lived on less than a kWh a day.

At no time was I ever disconnected from the fossil fuel world. From my wood cookstove to my farm pump to my kerosene lamps to my wind generator and tower to the photovoltaics, batteries, copper wire and electronics. I was chairperson of one of our state alternative energy organizations. I manufactured a solar hot air panel. I thought “renewable energy” was the savior then I took a deeper look.

Believers continue the myth of renewable, sustainable, green and clean - some for belief; many for profit. They range from private sector entrepreneurs to nonprofits living on tax money to subsidy beneficiaries to the simply wishful to gurus. They live in the 1970s, a Twentieth Century view in a Twenty First century energy, resource and environmental reality. Their illusions create a false hope instead of realistic action.

See: Energy in the Real World with pictures of proof.