Establishing A New Flow to Go With

I've been reading the despair of some Obama supporters lately as the BP rig leak in the Gulf of Mexico expands. How can he support off-shore drilling? Isn't this event proof that the rigs are too risky? These friends are counting only the health and environmental costs, and they have a point. When you add in the costs to industries which require clean water (like fishing), they have an even bigger point. And when you add in the fact that the U.S. does not require the automatic cut-off valves that European countries do, it just makes you really tired.

But I think they may be missing the real point. Obama's stand on nuclear power and increased off-shore opportunities is about national security. And what my friends are discussing is the battle between traditional sources of energy as opposed to what we call green energy.

Green energy is the name given to those methods of power generation that keep our computers running but do not add to air or water pollution. There are an awful lot of different methods of achieving the goal. Here lately, there's been lots of talk about wind and solar, because these two industries actually have some infrastructure built up where something can be delivered on at least a regional scale. In other words, they've been around long enough to have been fully implemented, were we at all motivated to do so.

Unfortunately, we haven't been desperate enough to do so. We are suffering from an enormous case of inertia.

Some of our inertia is based on the desires of a few to maintain the old way for either profit or pleasure. Witness the nine years it has taken for Jim Gordon to gain approval for a wind farm in Cape Cod. The turbines in this installation have the potential to deliver fully 75% of the power needed for the Cape and surrounding islands. Without the potential for oil spills, and without a daily expelling of carcinogens. As in the current Gulf of Mexico oil spill, this points to a larger picture--what happens in America if we eliminate the pollution of power plants? Do we see a savings in health care as well as military spending? Its one of those things you really can't answer until you try, and we have been, shall I say, highly resistant to trying.

Tokyo, apparently, has reached the point of pain where change is desirable. A large continent allows a people to keep pushing the problem further away and into the backyard of the poor. An island does not. You simply run out of room. Just imagine, if you will, if all of the garbage that you generate--just in your own home, mind you--had to be stored in your own backyard. How long would it take for you to start finding an option to beat "landfill?" We need to consider power in the same way... what are we willing to have that close to home? Our truthful answers ought to make policy apparent.

My biggest gripe with the "far left" and the "far right" in politics is that they compartmentalize the news headlines without looking to see how the stories connect. For the U.S., energy policy is currently linked to national security because we have allowed it to be so. We have allowed fossil fuel industries to invest our stock dollars overseas in countries with volatile (even more so than ours!) politics. We not only invest in these companies, we subsidize them. And I hasten to point out that we subsidize all our energy possibilities, but the green ones don't require us to protect supply lines with our military.

We need a serious cure for our inertia. We need the chance to go with a different flow. So if you really care about marine life, or air quality, or the quality of life of coal miners, consider a letter to your congressman. And be specific. Connect the dots for him or her, because he/she just might not be capable of that kind of synthesis. I'm pretty sure my congressman isn't.

Another Great Reason to Garden

The Big Recycle

The Big Recycle