Date: October 8th, 2016
Clean energy will save us from many oncoming threats – I don’t mean to sound macabre, but we are slowly destroying our planet in a multitude of ways – and we are being given a second chance by Mother Nature. The point isn’t that humanity doesn’t have its virtues, don’t feel offended when I say we’re slowly destroying our planet, the point is that none of our other virtues will do us any good if we don’t fix this.
We should be grateful for this second chance. According to the good people at the “climate change” department at Nasa (http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/), the effects of continued climate change will be too overwhelming for us. Sea levels will rise by 1-4 feet by 2100. “Sea level rise will not stop in 2100 because the oceans take a very long time to respond to warmer conditions at the Earth’s surface. Ocean waters will therefore continue to warm and sea level will continue to rise for many centuries at rates equal to or higher than that of the current century.” Coastal cities in the Southwest United States will experience flooding and erosion. Species are already dying off. From National Geographic, “The Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola) seems to have disappeared from its home in the eastern Torres Strait of the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists say. The animal was last seen by a fisherman in 2009, but failed attempts to trap any in late 2014 have prompted scientists to say it is likely extinct.” (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/first-mammal-extinct-climate-change-bramble-cay-melomys/) Lee Hannah, a senior climate change biology scientist for Conservation International, says, “This species could have been saved.” And yet…more are on their way out, including, quite sad, the world’s smallest penguin. Let me make something clear. We are running out of time. No amount of “hope” will change our fate, but action will. You can be hopeful. Hope keeps us sane, but please, be hopeful because you know you’ve done all you can do and are encouraging others to do the same.
This is what you can do with the second chance you’ve been given: use it. It’s not necessarily easy, but it is simpler than they make it sound. This is all: stop negative emissions, such as excess carbon dioxide or methane. That’s it. It seems so overwhelming because there are so many ways to do it, so many ways you can do your part. It’s a broad category, I’ll give you that. So many ways to fix the problem that it seems like you need to do ‘em all. But just because a lot needs to be done doesn’t mean we can’t do it. You know what? I’m gonna be helpful: I’m gonna give you a big list, right here, right now, of what you can to be part of the biggest solutions:
Plain Old Energy Efficiency: When you turn things off, really turn them off. Standby mode can use up to 40% of an appliances power, and leeches like TVs still use power even when you’re not using them. Unplug your TVs power when you want to turn it off. And this a “Well, of course” one – switch your current lights to hyper-efficient LED, CFL, or “halogen incandescent” lights, turn the lights off when you’re not using them, and only use them when the sunlight cannot reach your particular workspace or library – in other words, only turn lights on when you need to. Use the sun. In addition, there are many other energy efficient products and appliances you can buy if you’re looking for that sort of thing – which you should be. Just go to your preferred search engine and type in “energy efficient _____” and something will come up. Or – go to http://energy.gov – that might be easier.
Solar Power: It’s so obvious, you could guess – go solar. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies willing to take your money – which is a given – and do something good with it – which is sadly rare. And these companies charge you slightly more in the beginning, more than average, but after that, you’re not paying – you don’t have to. In many ways, solar is cheaper than no solar. “Ah,” you might say, “but what if I don’t own my house?” (You can’t go solar without asking your landlord if you don’t own your house, because if you don’t own your house, you can’t make any exterior/invasive changes to your house by yourself.) You might consider finding a method to have a completely external set of solar panels, capable of powering your house, sitting somewhere in your backyard, connected by a set of wires and tubes and such, that way you don’t have to make any changes to your actual building.
Wind Power: Turns out you can actually install a wind turbine on your property. It depends on where you live of course, but according to the Wind Energy Foundation (http://windenergyfoundation.org), the steps for installing are: “1. Determine whether the wind resource in your area makes a small wind system economical. 2. Determine your household electricity needs by checking your monthly or yearly electricity usage. 3. Find out whether local zoning ordinances allow wind turbine installations. 4. Purchase and install a wind turbine sized to the needs of your household. The Small Wind Certification Council maintains a list of certified small wind turbines.” – at least, those are the basic steps, to get you started on your path. (You might want to take a look at the entire page: http://windenergyfoundation.org/wind-at-work/wind-consumers/wind-power-your-home/)
Take On The City: Let’s think of Los Angeles, for instance. Did you know that LADWP gets 52% of its electricity from coal-fired plants in Utah, Arizona, and Nevada? It receives power from other types of power plants including nuclear and gas-fired generating stations, but the whole of “clean energy” makes up for just 5% of LADWP’s capacity! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Department_of_Water_and_Power and https://thinkprogress.org/los-angeles-aims-to-be-coal-free-in-12-years-12b611e530b4#.ivuk5n6ju at https://thinkprogress.org) An alternative to getting off the grid, by installing your own system for your own house, would be to change the source of energy coming from the grid, so you don’t have to disconnect. Wherever you live, you can “edit” where your power comes from, by taking the fight to the city’s/state’s Big Cheese – you could write a petition (I might, in fact, I will, and I’ll tell you about it when I do), email them or call their office, or talk to them in person. I’ll warn you, if you want them to change anything, you can’t tell them “I wish” – you have to have an effective plan in mind, and you should share it with them, that will let whoever is concerned know this is a good thing.
This Is A Weird One, But A Good One: Does “thorium” ring a bell? Thorium reactors deserve an entire essay of their own, but I’ll tell you this: There are many different types of thorium reactors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power), but the most popular, LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactor), already has some fans. “With LFTR technology, 6,600 tons of thorium could provide the energy equivalent of the annual global consumption of 5 billion tons of coal, 31 billion barrels of oil, 3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and 65,000 tons of uranium.” (http://flibe-energy.com) There you have it. If you want clean energy on steroids, here it is. And it’s completely safe, too. “The key to efficient, safe and sustainable use of thorium is liquid fuel, particularly, including a combination of lithium fluoride (LiF) and beryllium fluoride (BeF2) salts often called “F-Li-Be.” Liquid FLiBe is ideal for nuclear reactor operation and chemical processing as it is unaffected by neutrons or radiation and is chemically stable. FLiBe salts have tremendous heat capacity with over 1000 degrees of liquid range to transfer large amounts of thermal energy at low pressures, enabling more efficient electricity generation with a more-compact and safer form of nuclear reactor.” – More from that Flibe website mentioned above. (And: “LFTR technology is scalable from small 10-50 megawatt reactors that could be used in remote locations up to utility-scale 250 megawatt reactors that could be arrayed for multi-gigawatt installations. With LFTR, the thorium fuel cycle can generate significantly less mining waste and many orders of magnitude less long-term byproduct waste than conventional solid-uranium-fueled energy generation.” You know what, just use the link – read the entire thing.) And yes – it is weird. The reason it hasn’t quite “caught on” yet is because, in simple words, “nuclear reactors are terrifying.” But that’s just rhetoric.
The economy will not be affected negatively by furthering the use of clean energy. Wind, solar, ocean, and geothermal power are extremely expensive, due to fact that they aren’t being used in bulk (a simple case of supply and demand), the fact that wind and solar power both require certain environmental factors, and the distance between the generators and the cities they power (transmission costs) (http://burnanenergyjournal.com/what-is-the-cheapest-source-of-energy/ at http://burnanenergyjournal.com). However a massive influx of clean energy use would create more jobs than not, and there are many things in this world that don’t even need half the money they receive for their cause (Ever thought about how much money we’d save if we didn’t put every single mild “marijuana offender” in jail?). On top of that, we wouldn’t ever run out of money for the most important things in life unless something drastic happened – money is being printed constantly. From The Fact Monster: “The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces 38 million notes a day with a face value of approximately $541 million. That doesn’t mean there is $541 million more money circulating today than there was yesterday, though, because 95% of the notes printed each year are used to replace notes already in circulation.” (http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0774850.html at http://www.factmonster.com) All in all, if there’s something to spend money on, this is it, and it will hardly make a dent. Besides, I want to remind you – this is the cost of living. Global warming is a huge problem, and if we don’t fix it, there won’t be an economy to worry about, because we’ll all be dead.
You had better do your part, or else – for your own sake. Reading all these articles about the effects and the causes and the deaths and the extinctions and the Koch brothers and Donald Trump…one of the only reasons I don’t think we’re all doomed is because Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who dabbles in all kinds of science, who also happens to be one of the most logical and cynical people to ever live, is subtly optimistic. (“Cosmos” – episode 12 – “The World Set Free” – click here to watch episode via Dailymotion) I must insist that you understand the gravity of the situation. I also want you to understand – I’m not worried about “us” – I’m not worried about humanity. Even when we’re doomed, we’re not doomed. We’ve lived through things. Sure, we’ve never dealt with a slowly roasting planet before, but technology has progressed with us. I believe in human ingenuity. I’ll admit it. We could go live on the underground of Mars. Or the moon. Or we could just go live in a big spaceship (which would ironically cost more than switching to “clean”) with an artificial atmosphere. Maybe, just maybe, we could invent a huge machine to cool off our planet. I believe humanity will find a way out of this, even if just to save our own skins. So no, I’m not worried about us. I’m worried about what this says about us. When will we “magic” our way out of this? Once California really does run out of water? Once people start dying? Once all the ocean life goes extinct, and the ocean itself turns to acid? How far will we take this? How long will we wait? For instance, my family – we’re liberal, and we ride the Metro, and we have an electric car. All fantastic. But are we doing everything? The answer, sadly, is no. We don’t own our house. Every time I ask my dad about solar panels, he says he wants to have them, but we’d need to talk to the landlord. He wants to. Huh. But are we ever at the landlord’s doorstep, saying “Please, please, please” on bended knees? Are we trying our hardest? Are we? Are we doing everything necessary to solve this problem? No.
Actually, “How long will we wait?” is the wrong question. “How long will we wait?” invokes “Someone else will fix this, this is not my fight.” Will you continue to be complacently serene with thinking about doing things, but never doing them? Will you read this, think about how great of a writer I am (why, thank you) and then forget about it tomorrow? Will you make it a hashtag and say “There, I did my part!”? Will you take this seriously?
How long will you wait?
How many excuses do you have left?