Saturday, January 1, 2011

Get the Renewable Energy Story Straight, Big Media

Holding the Sun -- Solar Ninja
In nearly every article I read in mainstream media -- The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times -- I see the same mistake: the suggestion that a transition to GHG-free, renewable energy will cost a lot of jobs and money.

True. It will cost some coal and nuclear power executives their jobs. So what? And some coal miners. OK, that is troubling. But if we say to hell with whining coal and nuke executives and do the right thing for our planet and its citizens of more modest means, we could put those coal miners back to work building, installing, and maintaining renewable energy infrastructure; or implementing efficiency improvements in existing building and manufacturing stock. That would create 4.5 million jobs, over and above those lost by coal miners, and other dirty-energy workers. And it would add $4.3 trillion of domestic revenue to our economy.

Another mistake that mainstream media makes is that technology for renewables and efficiency improvements is way, way off on a distant hope horizon. Unlike carbon fantasy capture and unsafe, toxic nukes, proven technology for a renewable energy supply and vastly improved efficiency have been around for decades. It hasn't been subsidized and advertised at consumers expense, like coal and nukes. That is why nobody seems to know about it -- your friendly mainstream reporter and duly elected politician especially.

Finally, mainstream media always appear to accept the assertion by politicians on the nuclear power industry take that "nuclear power must be part of the future low-carbon energy supply mix." Wrong. Nuclear power is not a least-cost, or least-delay source of energy. For every dollar spent on nuclear energy, we lose the equivalent of $10 that we could have gained in efficiency, or up to about $2 gained from rapidly deployed clean, safe renewable sources (E05-15_MightyMice.pdf [page 5]), and we loose precious time -- no nuclear plant, if construction started today, would have any meaningful impact on mitigating the climate crisis we face. Nukes are too slow to build to do any good. So, be reasonable. Rule out nukes now, before we waste precious money and time.

Here's a brief article (3 pages) from 1995 (15 years ago!) that outlines efficiency improvements available four our building stock:

The Super-Efficient Passive Building Frontier
Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
ASHRAE Journal June 1995

And here's a really slick way to transition to renewables and save tons of money and carbon and do quite nicely without high-cost, high-risk nukes:

Mighty Mice
Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute
This article discusses the benefits of decentralized micropower for generating energy, as compared to nuclear power. Amory Lovins argues for decentralized energy systems based on data showing that micropower is more efficient and has already eclipsed nuclear power in the global marketplace. Micropower and its natural partner, efficient end-use, have surpassed and outpaced central stations despite many obstacles. These forms of energy are diverse, ubiquitous, plentiful, widely available, largely benign, and growing in popularity.
Happy New Year! Let's get this stuff right, and not be a bunch of well-trained parrots for the dirty-energy industry.

Maine Solar Energy Association

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