The World as Pigsty
By Francis de Winter
We live in curious times. Everywhere, people are turning the world into a pigsty, so that we can continue living like pigs.
Concerned about the disappearing north polar icecap? A lot of people like the idea. It will allow them to get at oilfields under the Arctic Ocean, adding more carbon and pollution to the atmosphere.
|Frank De Winter|
Mountaintop removal has become a major industry. It’s a cheap way to harvest coal, and turns the local scenery into a bleak and sterile moonscape. It pollutes local rivers, illegally and forever, and adds still more carbon and pollution to the atmosphere.
Fracking is popular. It cracks and breaks up shale rock layers to get the gas and oil out. It contaminates the groundwater, causes earthquakes, congests and destroys local roads, pollutes air and scenery — all to add still more carbon and pollution to the atmosphere.
Tar sands can be heated to make them flow for still more oil. Mining it creates huge areas of wasteland, and uses lots of outside energy to get the tar sand out of the ground and clean it for refining. The process creates large polluted ponds that kills any duck that lands in them. And, of course, it adds still more carbon and pollution to the atmosphere.
Coal burning power plants can pollute the air all the way across an ocean, adding so much mercury to the sea that one can no longer eat much fish. Guess what? They add still more carbon and pollution to the atmosphere.
We see a lot of propaganda aimed at installing still more nuclear power reactors, despite the problems of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima, the radioactive waste dumps at uranium mines and elsewhere, the unsolved problems of spent fuel and of nuclear proliferation, and the permanent and very harmful radioactive contamination of Iraq through the use of depleted (but still highly radioactive) uranium the United States used in its petroleum war in Iraq.
What can you do about this?
You can recognize that humanity is clearly at the beginning of the end of traditional energy sources (fossil fuel energy and nuclear energy), and at the beginning of the permanent age of renewable energy. The proof? The solar and wind energy industry is booming, and the public is enthused about the renewable energy products. Much of the traditional energy industry is in chaos and decline, and fighting a desperate rear-guard battle for a few more decades of profits.
You can join and support ASES. The Society is still too small, and there are still too few readers of Solar Today, for the U.S. population to become widely aware of the advantages of solar and wind energy, and the terrible price we pay for fossil fuel and nuclear power.
We have a lot of work to do and we need your help.
Volunteer at the ASES National Solar Tour in October. Get active in your local ASES Chapter – and if you don’t have one, form one. Put up a small solar array where your neighbors can see it doing useful work – at home, at work, at a school, church, park or transit station. In the coming months Solar Today will show how.
Make a donation to ASES. The money will be used wisely. Send your friends a copy of this article, and ask them to join ASES and subscribe to Solar Today. You can buy them a gift membership or a gift subscription, or buy a gift subscription of Solar Today for your public library, or for the library of your local school or college.
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Frank de Winter, a thermal-energy scientist and lifelong advocate for renewable energy, is a former chair of the American Solar Energy Society. He recently rejoined the Board of Directors and now serves as vice chair.