Sunday, December 11, 2005

next spin on a complex issue, a readjustment of perspective

Drop a pebble into a still pond and watch the ripples bloom, the first wave being the oldest, a fading ring preserving the information of its creation. If we were to stand back far enough out into space, and listen with the right ears, there would be a low whisper of trees and scraping of stones. Moving toward Earth, and hence, forward in time, we would get a slow build up of intensity, so slow as to be almost imperceptible, like a humming of a mosquito you aren’t quite sure is getting closer or not. Then, as if waking from an eiderdown-soft dream into a frenzied construction zone, the volume surges up and up, till it is a deafening roar that manages to crash into the radio and ultraviolet bands in a sea of high-speed nostalgia and ever quickening bursts of information! It is as if the whole world had tumbled out of bed with a bad craving for a hot cup of coffee, a cigarette, and some skull-crushingly loud rock-and-roll. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution had happened, and at near-light speeds, too! We are now fortunate enough to have front row seats of the present: a culmination of events leading to some wonderful tensions and intriguing uncertainties about the future. I know I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Pass the popcorn!
The Industrial Revolution has created within our civilization an appetite, a momentum of consumption that not only encompasses the whole menu, but the staff, the restaurant and all of us, as well. The irony here is that the Industrial Revolution was meant to set us free by having machines do the work for us. Now, with the impersonalized and computerized climate we see today, it seems we are working for them, shoveling coal into a doomed locomotive that’s running full steam toward the edge of the world, devouring virgin fields and pristine lakes all along the way. It is here I imagine some waxed mustached figure robustly snapping his suspenders and touting “progress, progress, progress!” in a proud, nineteenth century fashion. As modern Westerners, we consume about three hundred and fifty times the energy, per person, as did he. Consider that our population is ten times the size it was two hundred years ago, we might as well run an extension chord to the sun to meet our energy needs. “To put it another way, in one year we now consume more than our society did in the whole period from the rise of ancient Greece to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.” (Peter Russell)
Using fossil fuels has led to some huge problems such as pollution and war. The coal burning section of the power industry, for example, contributes ninety three percent nitrous oxides, ninety six percent sulfur dioxide, eighty eight percent carbon dioxide, and ninety nine percent of the mercury emissions attributed to that industry. The entire power industry is credited with about one third of these wastes, nationwide. That leaves the transportation sector as the major contributor America’s dirt. But over the last hundred years these fuels have become a necessary tool to making our busy lives work, so to say “hey, this stuff is bad for us” when our very well being depends on it, is an open invite for criticism from all sides. Unsavory as it may be, we must move on to something else or face the dire consequences of a future where everywhere looks like Los Angeles, and I don’t mean the pretty parts. Contrary to this grim vision are the fuel companies[S1] , their pockets laden with cash and minds full of greed. Satan should be taking notes. These are the guys who would serial rape a convent, burn down an orphanage and go club some baby seals before lunch.
Yada yada…stuff, ok the point: we need energy independence from toads, and boidiesel and nuclear power are the best ways to make this happen.
S. are fueled by coal, they contribute 93% of NOX, 96% of S02, 88% of Co2 , and
99% of the mercury emitted by the entire power industry.

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