With renewables, what’s not to like?

320px-Giant_photovoltaic_array[1]Estimates are America has nearly 250 million vehicles, the bulk of which are fossil-fuel-driven. That’s a lot of cars, buses, motorcycles, trucks, etc. To keep not only these vehicles on the go, but the bevy of stationary internal-combustion-engine-powered motorized machines, too, takes fuel – and lots of it.

While it’s no surprise the fuel available for this purpose is there, what’s striking to me, though, is: were it not for such fuel being in finite supply, in my humble opinion, fossil fuels – oil and natural gas in particular – would be taken entirely for granted. True, fossil fuels are in abundance, but given all they do, coupled with rising demand, the reality is: with continual withdrawal of such, at some point, supplies will be exhausted. The possibility that this could happen, should never be forgotten.

Maybe not completely forgotten but certainly not heard now as often as it once was is “peak oil.” This word-pair in particular appears to have been pushed aside by words or terms like “fracking” (short for “hydraulic fracturing”), “shale” and “shale deposits,” “tar sands,” “natural gas,” “pipeline(s),” “carbon dioxide” or “CO2,” “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” “anthropogenic global warming” and “climate change,” just to name several. Even so, this isn’t the last we will see (or hear) of “the peak of oil.”

Getting back to this fossil-fuel-abundance bit, the part which has not yet been extracted and still remains, reminding us of its presence if not staring us glaringly in the face, one, it seems, doesn’t have to search far or wide to spot a hydraulic fracturing operation, happen upon a below-the-surface or partially exposed shale or coal vein, or even sight an oil derrick (a relic or one in use), even.

And remembering fossil fuel use is not sustainable, meaning it’s finite and exhaustible, plus, due to negative environmental impact that results from such use, alternatives to fossil fuels are becoming more and more relevant and in vogue. That coal mining-, oil exploration- and fracking-related environmental disasters can and have happened, as is also true of fossil fuel transport, be it motor vehicle-, air- or ocean-going-tanker- or pipeline-based, I have yet to learn of a single case of environmental catastrophe related to the building and operation of a wind turbine, solar or co-generation project.

That’s a good track record and something to applaud, for sure. But the biggest renewables use bragging right is low or zero environmental footprint and impact. What negative impact there is with renewable resources projects, if there is any, would be visual in nature as in possible displeasing aesthetics, but that would be the extent of it.

With that said, it is due to such favorable characteristics, features or qualities renewable energy resource usage should be exploited to the fullest extent possible. In so doing there is both something to gain and lose and, in the case of the latter, that would be air pollution. And quite honestly, who couldn’t live and breathe easier with that?



Image at top: The United States Air Force

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