Renewables to the rescue: Beating a relentless path to clean-air’s door

It is not as if we did not already know humans are great at devising tools. We did. More of the very same as it applies to tools to determine and measure changes taking place in our atmosphere. Of this, we can be sure. Forget great, at that, we’re excellent.

What we are not as adept at on the other hand is in mitigating in the air that which doesn’t belong: the waste part, the fugitive emissions.

When we have available at our disposal the means to completely expunge and dissolve or disintegrate those air disruptors and modifiers (that which has changed air’s characteristics, composition or makeup for the worse) and exploit to the hilt those means and we’re not, one can’t help but ask: “Why not?”

Making indoor air cleanup “front-burner” status

We know that in some developing countries cooking is still done using less-than-best-practices methods.

Means that curb indoor releases of harmful-to-health air-toxics, unfortunately, are not universally applied. And, why should anyone, regardless of where, be unnecessarily exposed to harmful emissions in say their using a charcoal stove, especially when clean alternatives exist? We’re still behind the curve where that’s concerned. I understand making comprehensive changes obviously take time.

A replacement like an electric cook provision tapping power exclusively from the sun or wind solves the aforementioned problem, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

And, speaking of cooking, what I still can’t understand is why there exist more than two supply sources, electricity and natural gas, to cook or warm foods.

It should be noted that one is available in unlimited supply, and the other, while not limitless, is nevertheless in abundance.

From the devotees of brick and similar type ovens that get their heat from an open flame, if I get rebuttal from any, I won’t be at all surprised. There are a wealth of those devices still around.

As a slight aside, I was watching an episode of a popular cooking show, in which featured was this tricked-out outdoor barbecue grill above which the program’s host was to place and cook a chicken, rotisserie-style. Of all options available (like I said the grill was tricked-out), radiant-heat cooking was one. Here again, the source of cooking energy? Electricity.

Okay, back on point. And, speaking of which, the point I’m trying to make is the technological means to cook cleanly is there. Just as the technological means to cook cleanly is there, so too is the technological means to cleanly light, heat and cool our living spaces, allow us to more efficiently work and move ourselves as well as our raw materials and goods, and be entertained, whether at the theater, concert hall, stadium and other similar types of venues.

And, the environmentally friendly solutions could not be any more straightforward.

Fossil fuels as the last resort

Those energy resources which are found in the ground should right at this moment in time be an afterthought. In other words, fossil fuels should only be used as a “last-resort” fuel, when there is no other fuel available.

Oil shale combustion

It’d be different if our energy supply was exclusively fossil-fuel-based. But, this is now no longer the case. And, it hasn’t been for some time.

Yet, the way we use and consume this stuff you’d think the supply of such was endless.

In transitioning away from carbonaceous fuels to those renewably derived, I mean, how complicated can it be?!

Let’s say you want to replace coal power with renewable energy generation.

Remember: you’re going from a system that involves a host of steps – any one and all potentially environmentally negatively impacting – to one that involves just two.

Multi versus two-step process

Firstly, there is the mining side of things. Then there is the matter of shipping. Thirdly, once at the utility site, the substance has to be unloaded and stockpiled. If said carbonaceous rock is left out in the open air, should such become hit by wind, air can carry away dislodged particles or dust. Burning the coal for electricity production comes next. It is worth noting that because coal burns incompletely, there is residue that is left from the coal-burning process. This waste product has to be adequately and properly disposed of, something many don’t even think about.

Coal-fired power plant

All can be completely avoided simply by supplanting with renewables. With renewables it’s a matter of converting solar, wind or tidal energy into electricity and this is done through the employment of photovoltaics in the case of solar or turbines as it has to do with wind and tide. No need for raw material transport or shipment.

Warming up to major renewables use

When it comes to mitigating the negative and destructive effects caused by fossil-fuel burning, we know there is no better way to accomplish this than to stop such activity and turn to renewable sources. Will renewables become the be-all, end-all?

It could be. There is nothing that’s stopping this. In the United States, slowed, maybe, but, not stopped.

Take comfort in knowing that where renewables is concerned, it is not a question of if such will dominate. They will. The unknown is when.

Portion of SEGS 354 MW San Bernardino County solar complex

Images: Tennessee Valley Authority (3rd); USA. GovBLMBureau of Land Management (bottom)

This post was last revised on May 22, 2020 @ 1:18 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

– Alan Kandel