A Father’s Day Conversation: What Happened To Renewable Energy?
After reading Laurie David’s inspiring, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable new book, The Family Dinner, it validated the importance of engaging in family dinnertime discussions.
My nest is mostly empty, so my husband, Ted and I generally eat without our kids (who live in another city). Ted is an environmental planner, and many of our dinnertime conversations are eco-driven.
As Laurie says in her book…“Dinner Spreads Love”
Ted passionately looks at the big picture and long-term consequences. I passionately focus on day-to-day green actions. He puts together documents that are big enough to sit on. I write snippets for blogs that you could tuck into your pocket. Our approach is different, but we are generally on the same page.
It was excessively hot in the Northeast last week, and Ted announced that we should probably eat something that we don’t have to cook. The mere mention of not lighting up the gas stove brings out the eco-geekiness in me and I start the discussion…
Ronnie: What happened to renewable energy? I thought solar, wind, and geothermal were going to make a clean sweep over the power companies and offer homeowners real energy solutions for the future. Was that just a fantasy?
Ted: If we don’t kick our fossil fuel habit, our children will pay the price of our excess. Diminishing oil reserves and worldwide demand will price us out of the market, and climate change will force some out of their homes. There may be 30 to 50 years of oil left, and loads of coal, but burning 100,000 years of “buried sunshine” each year has created an imbalance in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – the main cause of global warming. Lest not forget, natural gas that needs to be extracted by hydro-fracking – that is known to contaminate wells and pollute the air. The sun is estimated to continue to shine for at least 5 billion more years. This is the time to harness the sun and capture the wind. It’s even getting more affordable. We should behave responsibly to our kids and keep exploring alternatives.
R: Doesn’t the world already employ renewable energy practices?
T: Right now only about 13% of the world’s energy is renewable.
R: I read that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world can get 80% of its power from renewable sources by 2050. The report claims that if a “full range of renewable technologies were deployed,” we could attain this truly clean power goal in under 40 years. Wow, this sounds responsible, right?
T: Yeah, I read that too. The Rocky Mountain Institute goes even further. They say that it would be profitable to displace oil completely over the next few decades. By 2025, the annual economic benefit of that displacement would be $130 billion. Investing now in renewable energy can also help poor countries develop, particularly where large numbers of people lack access to an electricity grid.
R: Just think of what an awesome deal clean energy production would be in terms of health benefits and economic savings. Power the world…Save the poor…Clean water and air for all!
T: Not so fast. There’s a minor glitch: our elected public officials have to enact policies that promote green power…and people need to be given the tools to adopt it. The US is the world’s biggest energy consumer, and our politicians are not on the same page. While we are asking our congressmen to clean up the air and the water, we also need to also tell our local elected officials they can do more. I work with non-partisan planning boards. New development should be subject to smart growth principles. Even while that’s happening, conservation pays. Energy-efficiency is still the cheapest form of energy available today. It is a prerequisite to investing in renewables. Before we can even envision a world powered by wind and sun, we’ve got to remember that conservation and reducing consumption across the board should be our first priority.
R: Hey, Happy Father’s Day, Ted…I love sharing these dinnertime conversations with you!