Alternative energy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2005

Worldwide energy production will increase by a factor of four over the next 100 years.

Most of the energy we use is derived from fossil fuels, which means greenhouse gases are now increasing exponentially.

We are changing the ecosystem with our cavalier use of fossil fuels, but there are alternatives. It’s strange, since there were no &uot;environmentalists&uot; back then, but our grandparents and great-grandparents were much more energy efficient than most modern people. They would never leave lights on or otherwise waste electricity or petroleum products.

We need to develop and utilize alternative, non-polluting energy sources.

Environmentalists believe that wind and solar power can provide all the energy we need, but I have my doubts about that. Where would all these windmills and solar collectors go? Wouldn’t we have to level woodland areas to build enough windmills to supply all our energy needs?

The obvious answer to the question of overuse and over-reliance on fossil fuels is to build more nuclear power plants.

The environmentalists hate the idea because they worry about what’s to be done with spent radioactive elements, but I think the biggest reason is that they have become conditioned to hate and despise the idea of nuclear power.

It’s all mixed in with fear and hatred of &uot;The Bomb&uot;, and with disaster scenarios like Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

Given a choice of completely altering the Earth’s climate – which would result in the mass extinction of many species of plants and animals – and taking a chance that Homer Simpson won’t initiate a nuclear disaster that would cause a localized environmental catastrophe, I would choose to take a chance with nuclear power.

I guess I’m a strange sort. I’m both environmentally conscious and a realist.

What does that mean? Basically, it means that environmental concerns must be weighted against the needs of the human community before decisions are made.

Weighing environmental risks against economic benefits, different people can reach widely divergent views using the same data.

Some environmentalists choose to oppose any business that poses even the possibility of pollution, no matter how remote, while some pro-business groups are for any kind of new industrial process, regardless of its potential for harm.

Wise leaders take these divergent opinions and make decisions based on what’s best for the greater good, weighing the industrial benefits against the potential for harm to people and the environment.

The basic problem, as I’ve written many times before, is that there are just too many people in the world. Mother Nature simply didn’t plan on humans being so numerous, long-lived, and profligate.

As the human population expands into new regions and overpopulates vast regions of the world, something’s got to give.

We either allow mass deaths to occur as &uot;nature’s way&uot; or we fight poverty, disease and hunger tenaciously. The only way to fight these scourges of mankind is to develop new ways to grow crops, as American farmers are doing, and create new medicines.

Allowing people to die of disease and malnutrition is not an option, so we must fight – continue our thrust into new technological arenas and new ways of doing things

The fight, therefore, is to balance the increasing demands we humans place on the environment with our wants and our needs.

We can’t revert back to nature to solve our problems because there’s not enough nature for six billion people to revert back to.