We have come a long way since the days of my youth in Pittsburgh. The air was foul and the creeks were orange with mine acid. Fish kills on the Allegheny River were common. Today the air is clean. The orange creek has fish in it and is a home for ducks. The steel mills are gone but fortunately some coal mines and power plants remain. They just don’t pollute like they once did.
Although a lot has been done we still have more to do. It took leadership, creative thinking and technology to get us to this point. It took scientists and engineers and a pubic that had a basic knowledge of math and science. People even school children back then knew that their electricity came from a power plant that was powered by coal, nuclear power or hydro. I learned that in science class. I guess that isn’t taught any more.
Today in a recent survey 52% of Americans said their electricity comes from the socket on the wall. I can’t count how many people have asked me why we need coal and natural gas when we have electricity. I know smart businessmen in Florida that thought their electricity came from wind and solar. When I asked how that works for them at night they were dumbfounded. “We didn’t think about that.” they said. In Florida 62% of electricity comes from natural gas because it is cheap and DEPENDABLE. Only 2% of Florida’s electricity comes from wind and solar.
Without a good basis in science people get their information from the internet (which we know is all true) or a few people in leadership positions. Most young people know more about pop culture than energy and can be easily led. Do they even stop to think if what they are being told makes sense?
If you were going on a trip and didn’t know how to get to the destination who would you follow, the person that had been there before and knew where he was going or the person that had no idea but talked a good game? Most people would follow the successful person that has been there before, unless they are looking for adventure. Sadly many environmental leaders including our EPA really don’t have a successful plan that that is based on sound science and engineering.
We hear from supposed environmental leaders and many politicians that renewable s are good and fossil fuels are bad. Really? In the photo above would you rather live next to the lithium mine or the reclaimed coal mine and gas well sites that have elk, deer, wild turkeys and birds on it? Lithium is important for the batteries we use in our smart phones and electric cars. If you think the lithium mine is bad you should see the land, air and water pollution caused by rare earth mining in China. It is far worse than anything I experienced growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. We need China’s rare earth metals to make solar panels, our modern wind mills and other electronic devices. We might not feel as comfortable with our politicians’ decision to go solar if we saw how the panels were made and the pollution it caused. Is it moral to subject people to that pollution for a political agenda or because we are allowing others to lead us? We should be thinking for ourselves.
Renewable s have been around for a long time. There are an estimated 3.5 Billion people that use the renewable s of wood, animal manure and charcoal to cook with and keep warm. The World Health Organization says that millions of these people have COPD (a deadly lung disease) from breathing foul indoor air.
If you want more evidence look at Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two nations on the same island. The people in Haiti live in poverty and pollution. Their side of the island has almost no trees. The Dominican Republic uses petroleum and natural gas. Their use of natural gas for cooking saved their trees. Haiti uses trees for fuel. (see below photo) The people on the Dominican side have a much cleaner country and a much higher standard of living than Haiti which is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Check out www.indexmundi.com/factbook/compare/haiti.dominican-republic
Any politician or environmental leader that thinks fossil fuels are bad and renewable s are good hasn’t looked at science, engineering and reality. Our transportation system runs on petroleum. Since wind and solar produce electricity how long will it take to replace millions and millions of vehicles? Fossil fuels have raised people out of poverty and can clean up the environment.
We have environmental issues in the USA but the most serious issues are outside of the USA and they will impact all of us. We need real leadership that doesn’t presume that they have all of the answers. The USA is an example of environmental success and what can be done with real positive leadership. Leaders influence rather than command. Leaders have a positive vision and a realistic plan to achieve it. Leaders have integrity. Leaders know how to build effective teams and are not intimidated by their people’s success. We have smart people in this country that care about the planet. With the right leadership we can continue the progress we are making without destroying the economy and putting more people in poverty. We have gone from energy crisis to energy abundance in less than 10 years. We are Americans. All things are possible. There is a better way but it requires us to think for ourselves and be leaders not sheep. Thoughts to ponder.
© 2016 Greg Kozera