Renewable Energy Is Our Future

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Renewable Energy Is Our Future


by Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News


When you drive through the countryside these days you see an increasing number of solar farms popping up on the landscape – acres and acres of land covered with panels collecting power from the sun and feeding it into the electric grid. You will also see a growing number of businesses, from farm operations to big city manufacturing plants, with solar panels supplementing their power.

Wind farms have also been steadily growing in Minnesota and America, feeding power in to the electric grid. The University of Minnesota-Morris helps to power its campus with two giant windmills. A growing number of farmers have been using windmills to supplement their power.

Natural gas, far cleaner to burn than coal or oil, has been steadily growing as a source of preferred power because it is plentiful and relatively cheap these days. Fracking, admittedly a controversial method for extracting oil and gas from the ground because of its potential adverse impacts on groundwater, has opened new, previously unreachable sources of natural gas.

America’s jobs tied to solar, wind, natural gas and bio energy together far outnumber the jobs in producing oil and coal  - 1,004,457 to 675,637. Coal mining creates far less than half the jobs than the solar industry creates – 160,119 versus 373,807. Coal jobs are falling while solar jobs continue to increase.

Coal-fired power plants and coal production aren’t diminishing because a bunch of environmentalists say burning coal contributes to heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming (which it does), it is declining because solar and wind produce power more cheaply. Power companies like Xcel Energy are investing in wind and solar, going away from coal, because it gives their customers cheaper power.

Jobs In Energy

Source    Jobs
Oil     515,518
Coal    160,119
Total    675,637

Natural Gas    398,235
Solar    373,807
Bioenergy    130,677
Wind    101,738
Total    1,004,457

Yes, regulations on burning coal have made it more expensive to burn. However, those regulations have significantly reduced the pollution coal plants spew into the atmosphere. But as to the jobs in the coal industry lost, that loss started long before environmental regulations began to be implemented. “Coal jobs fell by two-thirds between 1948 and 1970, the year the Environmental Protection Agency was founded,” The New York Times reported. Strip mining and new mechanical ways of mining coal led to the fall in jobs.

Solar and wind power, pushed forward by ever-improving technology, represent not only our clean source for electricity in the future but a growing job-producing industry as well. Solar and wind power also have a lot to do with the quality of life on this planet for future generations. Burning greenhouse-gas-producing coal and oil are heating up the Earth with dire consequences for life in the oceans and on the land.

Warming oceans are leading to massive bleaching of coral reefs as they die out. Reefs teem with a rich ecosystem of life. The consequences of losing these reefs have yet to be calculated.

On land, our temperatures are warming expanding deserts and intensifying droughts with deadly results.

“Deadly heat waves like the one now broiling the American West are bigger killers than previously thought and they are going to grow more frequent, according to a new comprehensive study of fatal heat conditions,” Associated Press climate reporter Seth Borenstein writes. The number of days we see reaching into the 90s and 100s are going to increase across the country, not only having an impact on humans, but on crop production as well. As farmers drill new wells to irrigate their crops during droughts and heat waves, battles will be fought over rights to the water in the country’s aquifers.

“Last year 22 countries or territories set or tied records for their hottest temperatures on record,” Borenstein reports. “In late May, temperatures in Turbat, Pakistan, climbed to about 128 degrees; if confirmed, that could be among the five hottest temperatures reliably measured on Earth,” Jeff Masters, meteorology director of Weather Underground, told him.

Now another disturbing trend may be developing. At climate monitoring stations around the world a rapid increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has shown up. This is occurring despite the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere appearing to have stabilized.

“That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever? Does it mean the natural sponges that have been absorbing carbon dioxide are now changing?” AP writer Justin Gillisjune quotes Joseph G. Canadell, an Australian climate scientist who runs the Global Carbon Project. “To me, it’s a warning.”

As we have produced more and more carbon dioxide, the oceans and land have absorbed over half of it with the rest remaining in the atmosphere, warming the Earth. What if these land and ocean “sponges” of carbon dioxide begin to fail? What if they can’t take on any more? If that is true, we could see the Earth begin to warm even faster. Climate scientists caution that their data is new and hasn’t been fully analyzed yet.

The Pentagon has said that a warming planet could be the most destabilizing world event it faces, leading to wars over water and food.

But President Donald Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and put us on the fringe with Syria – the only other country to reject the accord because it feels it is too restrictive. We were once a world leader in the fight against climate change; America is now on the sidelines at a time when leadership from us is what the world needs.

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