"WE will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future. So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil. "
This mantra, repeated on TV ads and in political debates, is punctuated with a tinge of inevitability and regret. But, increasingly, scientific research and the experience of other countries should prompt us to ask: To what extent will we really “need” fossil fuel in the years to come? To what extent is it a choice? [I guess if one doesn't need plastic, one might not need fossil fuel.]
As renewable energy gets cheaper and machines and buildings become more energy efficient, a number of countries that two decades ago ran on a fuel mix much like America’s are successfully dialing down their fossil fuel habits. Thirteen countries got more than 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2011, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, and many are aiming still higher. [I wonder if one of the 13 countries includes Spain or other European countries that have since put a "hold" on further renewable energy projects because of the expense.]
For anyone who falls into this claptrap, some suggestions:
- first, check out the experience in Iowa. Look at the table at the bottom of the page at that link. The wind declines significantly in July, August, and September, requiring all those fossil fuel plants (natural gas and coal) to be on stand-by or in operation
- no discussion whether wind industry could survive without tax credits
- the article references hydroelectric power in Canada; not much hydroelectric power available in Iowa or many other places in the states; huge difference between Canada and the US with regard to hydroelectricity
- electricity in Iowa is not being used to drive many cars, much less any farm equipment
- fossil fuel for electricity is only part of the equation; where does the NY Times writer think plastics, fertilizer, etc., come from?