Today we see protests around the world about global warming. Some of these are large, some quite small. But, they all have at least three things in common.
1) The demand for more renewable energy and less reliance on the use of fossil fuels.
2) They are all comprised of mostly student age participants.
3) It is likely that a high percentage of the participants don’t have a clue as to what they are talking about or whether or not the goals are even achievable. As an extreme example, there was one placard that said: “climate change is worse than homework”. Another demanded the clean air and water promised by their constitution. Really?
It seems that a common demand is the use of renewable energy and the ban on fossil fuels. So, what are the renewable energy sources?
Solar power, wind power, water power, and nuclear power. I grant you that we know how to manufacture solar panels, windmills, and nuclear power plants and we can build dams. We can manufacture batteries to store electrical power too.
My question though does any of those proponents of renewable energy have any idea how much fossil fuel it takes to accomplish any of those goals? How much fossil fuel does it take to manufacture all the steel needed to build a giant windmill farm? How much to transport all that steel and how much to run the very large cranes needed for assembly? How much fossil fuel is required to manufacture batteries, the huge amounts of concrete needed for a dam, and the glass panels required for county size solar fields? How many such facilities would be needed to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in our fuel using power plants.
No one that has seen the massive pieces of equipment needed to build a road, or dam, or airport could possibly agree that those could be run on batteries. I read a recent article that stated that it takes more fossil fuel to manufacture the batteries for an electric car than a comparable size gas car would use in its expected lifetime.
A few years ago our elected officials decided to do something that made it appear that they were doing something to address the global warming issue. So they said that our gasoline must be 10% ethanol and 90% fossil fuel. They didn’t bother to tell us that it took more fossil fuel to make ethanol than the 10% of fossil fuel it saved. Of course, the corn farmers loved it and are somewhat miffed that there is now talk of doing away with that ethanol requirement. More recently a US representative suggested that if we killed all the cows (that tend to pass methane from both ends) and grounded all the airplanes it would solve the global warming issue. Where do we get these idiots? Ah, but that is a subject for another day.
Some companies, mostly small and mid-sized ones, are closing shops, or home offices to allow their people to participate in the rallies. One has to wonder though about the real motives of these companies. I would hazard a guess that in most cases the motive is to garner goodwill with employees and to put a good face on for the public in hopes of solidifying or expanding market share. Color me skeptical if you wish, but I suspect any company that is hell-bent for leather to do what they can to fix the planet has already done so without any fanfare.
There are also those that say high tech (like the mighty mouse of old) is here to save the day. Just how is that to happen I ask? Perhaps the welding robot that works on the auto assembly line, and that runs on electricity, that is mostly made by plants burning fossil fuels. The human that the robot replaced didn’t require electricity. All those cell phones that seem to become obsolete before we can figure out how to use them and all the computers around don’t just pop out of that mysterious cloud. They are made in factories that run on fossil fuels.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I agree that we have, and continue to, abuse the planet. The plastic trash, the overfishing, the mismanagement of our natural resources such as trees are real problems. Even overpopulation is a problem in many areas. Neither do I dispute that there is such a matter as global warming, though the amount of human impact may be in question vs. the natural variances of the planet.
My point here is that yes we have problems, though I don’t think skipping school or work is going to find a solution to any of them and calling attention to the issues that we are already aware of fixes nothing. Our politicians don’t understand the problems much less how to fix them and their babbling is simply designed to garner votes. Scientists publish learned papers pointing out the problems, though I haven’t heard any of them come out with a viable solution to any of them.
We all need to take a deep breath and step back from the posturing and blame throwing and take a calm cold look at the situation. List the problems and what has caused, or is contributing to them. Then and only then can reasonable and workable solutions be found and a clear course of action be plotted.