Fake Green

Fake green is a technology that promises environmental benefits while neglecting to mention excessive financial and environmental costs.

A great example is ethanol production in the U.S. and biofuel production worldwide. As related in a recent Newsweek article (http://www.newsweek.com/id/77501), the share of the U.S. corn crop devoted to ethanol production has increased from 6 to 25 percent. Farmers and ethanol investors reap benefits, but everyone else loses. Food prices are skyrocketing, but biofuel still accounts for less than 3 percent of worldwide transportation fuel.

Meanwhile, biofuels encourages deforestation in developing countries. The adverse effects of corn-based ethanol were widely known, but industry lobbyists still managed to garner government subsidies.

That is fake green, not real green. Just about every energy technology purported as green has substantial drawbacks to go with often ephemeral benefits. This includes wind, solar, and other renewables. If so many purported technologies are not green at all, then what is?

Cutting energy use is the greenest course of action. The problem is that there is no huge industry with paid lobbyists that benefits directly from reduced energy used; so cutting consumption instead falls to a motley collection of industry engineers, environmental groups, and utilities.

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  • <p>The same thing is going on now as with the "crisis" in the '70s. Most of the green is smoke and mirrors to make select industries a lot of money without much return. Using less energy and using what we have to more wisely is the first step. But, utilities and farm machinery makers don't profit from this.</p>

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  • <p>Agreed Dave. Seems like vested interests take hold of Congress and get lots of money for projects of dubious benefits.</p>

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  • <p>In my opinion it is a multifaceted issue. This article considers one of the aspects involved, i.e., ridiculous replacements of contemporary sources of energy with the alternatives without considering the consequences. There are specific issues involved depending upon the local decisive parameters unique for every region, i.e., there are some regions where these green alternatives are serving efficiently and there is no choice except these (e.g., offshore wind farms in Denmark) while at the other places, as mentioned by Dan Hebert in his article, these green alternatives seem to be a hoax. Generically discussing, these green technologies or alternatives are in earlier stages of their development and as time passes they will develop more and more, dealing with these crucial issues mentioned in the article by Dan. Decades ago computers were so expensive, those who used to buy them needed them desperately, but now research and development have reduced their cost and made them affordable and more efficient. These green alternatives are not only needed because they claim to be environmentally friendly and less costly, but they are also required because of the fact that the most-used contemporary resources are going to end up some day leaving us with only these green resources. In my opinion the article should be considered in a perspective that we should not reject these alternatives. Rather, we should work on development of these alternatives as mentioned above and should not deploy them in such a bulk so that they start replacing the contemporary energy sources in common use without having a thought at the consequences. The approach should not be instantaneous, abrupt and quick deployment of these alternatives, especially when they are in the development stage. We should continue developing (not deploying) these resources and consider all crucial aspects involved. Many common and contemporary sources will decay, and it requires not days but years, and in some cases a century or so, to replace them. We should utilize this time in development (again, not deployment) of these green alternatives. The bottom line is that green technology itself is not the culprit. Its advantages cannot be ignored. The factual issue is the abrupt replacement of contemporary resources with these green alternatives without having a thought of its consequences and without waiting for the maturity of their development as mentioned earlier in detail.</p>

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  • <p>I have to disagree with Mr. Herbert that conservation is the answer, when growth requires about a 2% increase in power annually. I agree with him that wind energy is a scam [my term]...A question that I ask... when the wind stops..then what? The utilities will still need the same amount of power that demand requires, otherwise we would have blackouts. I have always maintained that wind enregy is a duplication of power the utilities already have to have and Mr. Tom Tanton agrees. I live in windmill country near Palm Springs CA and obtained 15 years of WE production records [from Edison]. The 4,000? windmills and about 600 MW of installed capacity, they only generate 100 +/- MW per year [intermittently] of which only 6% is generated at peak need time, 33% mid peak and 61% off peak. They have scaped about 30 sq. mi. of desert, the noise studies are flawed and we are impacted with noise, visual blight and devalued property. We chose to live in a rural are for the peace and quite, but for 25 years our life has been hell. Yet, when I tell people that they only generate this little... they don't believe me, they think that I'm nuts. They have been so brainwashed and the people with stature that know the truth have been silent and have allowed this travesty go on. And I can't believe the so called environmental community, that will file a lawsuit if you want to build a house, but support this bogus energy while they cuisenart the birds and destroy everything in there path for nothing while our electric bills have quadrupled.</p>

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  • <p>When I first read the intro for Mr. Herbert's article, I was expecting to engage in something more intuitive. However, upon reading the article, it's the same reading I've read before.</p> <p>Neither Mr. Herbert nor I can do much of anything about porker politicians and the U.S. Citizens who continually put them into power. So suck up and digest the subsidies or take action. Don’t whine.</p> <p>Neither Mr. Herbert nor I can do much of anything about porker consumers of energy. Most U.S. Citizens make more money then have brains. They’re going to satisfy their infatuations regardless. So suck up wild, out of control consumption or take decisive action. Don’t whine.</p> <p>We cannot discuss alternatives “grand scale” then say that we bought a (a=1) refrigerator and washer dryer. Did Mr. Herbert buy one (1) for everyone in California? I didn’t think so. Are we talking (1) wind generator or 100,000,000 wind generators? We’re only talking (1) refrigerator? Well, I didn’t get (1) from Mr. Herbert.</p> <p>We can assess that General Motors is NOT going to build a 60mpg machine. We can assess that the U.S. Citizenship is NOT going to use less energy in their thirst for fuel guzzling transportation and we certainly can assess that the U.S. is NOT going to do anything politically incorrect (no votes). The Dept of Transportation has NOT engineered the system nor created the atmosphere for a highly efficient and effective transportation machine. Instead, money, pork, and “easy” are cool! "Can't wait for retirement. That's my job (to wait for retirement so that I can buy a RV and gas my way across country)." This is today's mentality in the United States.</p> <p>Alternatives have to be studied, developed, and applied to each case. We need to dispel the ‘big box’ mentality in our engineering endeavors.</p> <p>Bio fuels, solar, wind, thermal mass, moon gravitational pulls, and the like are all nothing new. If we cannot enhance on these, and FORCE consumers to use less, without consumers realizing it) then we all best go fishin’. Most all these energy substances (mass=energy) have been around for billions, no God zillion, years. Yet today, here in Coastal North Carolina, there is barely a sign of mass consumer participation in harnessing them or energy efficient thinking (college educated rich kids?). Has anyone taken the initiative to learn why?</p> <p>The human machine is no more then 14% efficient (pizza in, crap out). Should we abandon or write off “this” model and machine better!?!</p> <p>Well, the sun is stinging the skin. I better go check the readings on my solar panels. They’re silently working, no matter how inefficient, about 14%.</p> <p>Yes. There is a lot of fake green out here. I’m actually doing something about that. Are you? The ball is in our court and we’re the players in the game. Are we ready for the challenge?</p>

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  • <p>This is a very interesting discussion. I agree with the premise that there are a lot of green snake oil salesman, and I agree that conservation will provide us the most bang for the buck in the near term. However, we must recognize that our oil resources are being depleted a rate far greater than new oil is being discovered and at some time soon (10-20 years) we can expect to see the demand for oil exceed the supply. We MUST start developing our future sources of energy now because the price of oil will only be increasing from here. Our future sources of energy must also address the problem of global warming and so renewable energy (and perhaps nuclear energy) are our best choices.</p>

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