Friday, April 23, 2010

Military Gifts Mother Earth

Our planet got a present from the American military yesterday, Earth Day. The Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate issued a report showing how our armed forces are addressing their carbon emissions. The Department of Defense has set a goal of getting 25% of its electric energy from renewable sources by 2025. The military is also initiating energy-saving measures in all its operations from housing to vehicles.

This makes total sense: The military's purpose is to protect us. What better way than to push towards energy independence? Then all those mothers' sons won't have to go to far off places to get killed or maimed for the sake of access to foreign oil. The only losers here are the makers of prosthetic limbs.

I am proud to say that my father was an army captain in World War II. For three long years he was away from our family. Military spouses, parents, and children should only have to bear that pain of absence and loss for a really urgent reason.

Energy independence means far fewer will have to. It also happens to mean a cleaner Earth.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Future of Energy?

I went to a lecture at Harvard the other day. The speaker, Prof David MacKay, said, "This is a lecture about visualizing life without fossil fuels." Great, I thought. That's what I'm doing in my novels.

MacKay, of Britain's University of Cambridge and their Department of Energy and Climate Change, has just published a book, Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air. It's meant for the layperson, and you can even download it for free.

Delivered in a brisk, dramatic tone, the message of his lecture was very interesting, as far as it went. We heard that Americans use twice as much energy per person as Europeans, that we'll need a 90% cut in this use by 2050, and that even to begin to match today's use through alternates, we'd need so many wind turbines and solar panels, they'd crowd out people. We also got information about technofixes like underwater windmills, solar heat storage and transfer, and smart grids that control demand.

But the visualizing never got around to what life will be like. Prof MacKay did not try to picture for us what our grandchildren face. Perhaps he didn't dare. What a downer it would be! So we were informed and entertained, but not scared out of our wits.

I wonder, does Prof. MacKay ever really visualize the future? I'll bet he does. And I'll bet it keeps him awake at night.

P.S. Using the word "energy" to mean fuel is only about 30 years old. But energy just sounds so much more cheerful and innocent, don't you think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let's Drill Offshore!

Hey, great idea. Instead of developing wind and solar power and better public transportation, let's dig out all the oil from this stupid old Earth that we can. Pump some more climate killing gasses into the air so we can all choke to death.

No, we don't need all that exotic wildlife out there, like fish and birds. We need to take care of our own, the oil comany honchos who really know what's good for us. A few oilspills here and there, what's the difference? Tell those pinko enviros to stick it, all they care about is nature, you know, the natural world. Hokum. And they are subversives besides. Why else would they want to stop burning gasoline?

Way to go, Obama. Now you're in power you can ignore all those wimpy, suspect folks who worked so hard to put you in office. Keep your eye on short term profit, never mind the future of the human race.

April Fool!