In my continuing effort to launch the CleanTechies community to the forefront of the clean energy debate – and perhaps, in some small part, because I am an insatiable gadfly – I dashed off the following letter to the New York Times yesterday.
It is tough to give much nuance to the argument in less than 200 words, but to me, there are clear connections and contradictions between the the two energy/environment Op-Eds they ran yesterday, one by Gregg Easterbrook, the other by Paul Krugman. The letter follows:
To the Editor:
Given the cataclysmic future that Paul Krugman outlines (Op-Ed, June 29) should our “betrayal” of the climate continue unchecked, I agree with Gregg Easterbrook (Op-Ed, June 29) that it is not “forward-thinking” to oppose even piecemeal progress on carbon reduction.
Yet, as a nation, we have prevented the expansion of nuclear power and the construction of hydroelectric dams. The recently-passed Waxman-Markey legislation keeps those technologies in purgatory. It favors wind, solar, biomass and tidal technologies that remain unprepared for the kind of large-scale, reliable, cost-competitive deployment sufficient to allow retirement of fossil fuel plants. Even looking longingly in the rear view, it is impossible to predict the level of US carbon emissions today if we relied on more hydro and nuclear in place of coal, oil or gas.
The legitimate concerns of abutting communities, local ecosystems, and native wildlife populations cannot be ignored. But, as we stare down double-digit temperature increases worldwide, it begs the question: what will be our priority?
Boston, Mass., June 29, 2009
In other words, this renewable energy revolution is about innovation, policy, political will, and investment.
But, it is also about deciding that the local skink population may need to take a backseat. You may have to see a new transmission line out your front door. I may have to hear a wind turbine hum when I’m in the backyard.
As Gatorade might ask: Is it in us?