04 December 2007

Tilting at Windmills

Hillsborough is set to take another tilt at windmills later this month. Discussions to make small wind-energy systems a permitted use in certain areas of the township were suspended last month over concerns about the environmental impact of the towers.

Are there any forms of energy - renewable or not - that don't have a negative impact on the environment? We know the consequences of relying on oil, coal, and natural gas to power our modern world. Less obvious perhaps are the negative side effects of hydro-electric power, solar power, and now, wind.

Ecology aside, the greatest problem with wind and solar power is that they are too expensive - more expensive than the fossil fuels - and it will always remain so. Why? Because the people that control the oil can charge whatever they want for it. And in spite of the fact that the the price of oil has been rising for decades, there is nothing that says the price of oil couldn't begin to fall. Fall just enough so that it is below the price of the renewable energy sources.

Here's why: Despite being told for years that oil is a finite resource, there is still plenty of it in the earth. Oil will not become truly expensive until there is almost none left! Perhaps instead of trying to conserve oil, proponents of renewable energy should be trying to use it up!

Crazy? Possibly. But no wilder than seeding the atmosphere with dust particles or putting giant reflectors into orbit to cool the earth - two ideas that scientists are working on now. Talk about "tilting at windmills"!

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