How to power our lives

Energy issues fascinate me. It’s the dichotomy of 2-cent a kilowatt coal – unbelievably inexpensive and the most significant factor driving our standard of living and economic growth – against the atrocious negative externalities of acid rain, mercury laden alpine lakes and global warming. It’s the atrocious uncultivability (I hereby declare this a word) of wind energy and the atrocious negative externalities that accompany the mining and disposal of all the nasty compounds that make energy storage batteries vaguely possible. I don’t know the solution, but here’s some interesting commentary, first from George Monbiot writing about nuclear energy, and a second article on the same theme from some fellows at the Cato Institute. In my opinion, it’s time to do what we can do immediately, and to focus more intelligently on the long-term solution. Rooftop solar should be utilized throughout the United States. Fund it, mandate it, subsidize it, I don’t care. Every inch of your home, every drywall screw, every drain trap, every 2×4, is the result of government regulation (building codes). Don’t tell me we can’t require rooftop solar. We can. Hell, there is an argument right now about requiring all new homes to have fire suppression – sprinkler – systems. Generally, I’m quite opposed to subsidies, which distort markets in ways that, well, have given us heavily subsidized coal at a cost to all other energy options. And no, i don’t buy the argument that mandates/subsidies will “kick start” the green economy or industry. Besides, it’s not about jobs. It’s about clean air and renewable power.

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