Energy alternatives

Much discussion and debate and double-talk about our looming energy crisis.

Everyone except coal billionaires — and their minions and spokespeople[1] — agrees we can’t continue burning coal. The exceptions of course, their protestations notwithstanding, know the truth as well as anyone. They however count on retreating to high-country enclaves when water and peasants start to rise.

Oil? That’s the next step on the coal spectrum, natural gas the step after that. Barely worth considering in this argument.

Ah, but we still have nuclear power. Nuclear power, which poses as be-all and end-all of energy production. Do, however, consider the implications of end-all when embracing a force whose dangers and costs we are only beginning to appreciate.

What’s a life form to do?

What about solar energy, wind power and water power?

We know some of the perils associated with water power: floods, forced dislocation of communities, disruption of water flow to homes and farms. We have yet to fully consider others, such as collapse of geological features when billions of tons of water are suddenly cached on top of them.

Wind and solar? Am I the only one who fears still more disruption of weather systems when we begin to harness winds and solar radiation in vast quantities in arbitrary locations?

Still, there may exist other possibilities. We can’t deal with those right now because we don’t know what they are. At least I don’t know what they are. When clever persons identify them, demonstrate their utility and efficacy, I believe we will discover that what is true about those we know will prove true about those we do not yet know.

And that is this.

There is no free lunch.

We cannot extract or adapt or harness or convert without paying a price. And I believe that problem is irresolvable.

  1. Spoke as a verb comes from speak. A spokesperson is one who speaks for another. Spoke also is a noun: a rod connecting a hub with an outer perimeter. Think of the Koch brothers as hub and yourself as part of the outer perimeter. Or imagine a spider’s web, its function and what lies at the center.  ↩

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