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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Off fossil fuels: We can do this

I am fully, completely and utterly convinced that we--humankind--has the technology and capability, already, to wean ourselves off oil and fossil fuels far quicker than is widely believed.  I don't think we have enough desire and motivation, more than anything, to get it done.

I think that, given the advances in solar power, photovoltaic cells and battery technology, even now, already, up to this point, we are far closer to using the sun and all the clean energy that could and would supply than we acknowledge or use yet.

Same with wind power--we're much farther along with it and it has much more capability to supply clean energy than we are using.

It was announced yesterday that Google is financing wind power technology off the East coast for power that could soon come online.  (See link below).

Now, check this out:

 KRISTIANSTAD, Sweden — When this city vowed a decade ago to wean itself from fossil fuels, it was a lofty aspiration, like zero deaths from traffic accidents or the elimination of childhood obesity.

But Kristianstad has already crossed a crucial threshold: the city and surrounding county, with a population of 80,000, essentially use no oil, natural gas or coal to heat homes and businesses, even during the long frigid winters. It is a complete reversal from 20 years ago, when all of their heat came from fossil fuels.

But this area in southern Sweden, best known as the home of Absolut vodka, has not generally substituted solar panels or wind turbines for the traditional fuels it has forsaken. Instead, as befits a region that is an epicenter of farming and food processing, it generates energy from a motley assortment of ingredients like potato peels, manure, used cooking oil, stale cookies and pig intestines.

 A hulking 10-year-old plant on the outskirts of Kristianstad uses a biological process to transform the detritus into biogas, a form of methane. That gas is burned to create heat and electricity, or is refined as a fuel for cars.

Once the city fathers got into the habit of harnessing power locally, they saw fuel everywhere: Kristianstad also burns gas emanating from an old landfill and sewage ponds, as well as wood waste from flooring factories and tree prunings.
Think of it--an entire city no longer running on fossil fuels.  No more unused, stupid, wasteful garbage dumps maybe.  How terrific.

It's happening.  We can do this.

And, oh, yeah, we could also spend less, as governments and societies:

Kristianstad now spends about $3.2 million each year to heat its municipal buildings rather than the $7 million it would spend if it still relied on oil and electricity. It fuels its municipal cars, buses and trucks with biogas fuel, avoiding the need to purchase nearly half a million gallons of diesel or gas each year.

We just have to get "Big Oil" out of our government, along with their lobbyists and all their money, so we can get off oil and coal, once and for all.

Then, we could get out of the Middle East.  We could get out of Iraq.  And Iran.  And so many other countries.  And stop sacrificing our American soldiers lives.  And stop wasting all those millions and billions of dollars on war and wars and bombs and weapons we would no longer need.

We could pollute less.  We could contribute less to global climate change.

And we could mind more of our own business.

I repeat, we can do this.

The question doesn't seem to be "Should we do this?" but "Why aren't we doing this already?"

1 comment:

chuck said...

Exactly right.

Shoulda been done long ago.

Not too late, get it done now.