Power by Any Other Name …

“I like the lights on. I want to stay up later at night. I don’t want to have to go to bed when the sun sets.”

                                                ~ US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Journalist and climate activist, Ilana Cohen cites some of the reservations held by the uninformed about alternative energy sources, Alternative energy sources have come under some criticism from some environmentalists. Solar panels only generate electricity when the sun shines and wind turbines only produce energy when the wind blows.”

Great and deep thinkers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have expressed doubts about wind energy. As Cohen notes, “Donald Trump, an ardent environmentalist, was apparently concerned that wind turbines caused cancer. Some suggested that the turning blades would kill lots of birds.”

Cohen continues, “Neither of these concerns is real, although some few birds do seem unable to avoid some types of the vanes. A plus for wind farms is that the area under and around them is available for wild vegetation or agriculture.

Writer Dustin Solberg presents additional facts about wind energy, “In a startling shift from the days of Big Coal, wind turbines are now the most economical form of new energy in the American Midwest. They’re bringing new investment and jobs to rural places struggling to diversify local economies while — and this is tremendously important — reducing carbon emissions … As wind energy scales up, we’ve got to do it right.”

One concern about another alternative source, solar, is that the panels absorb the sunlight that vegetation requires, and a greater area of the surface is disturbed for construction and required for operation. Cohen reports, however, that recent research, “published by Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment has found that pollinator-friendly solar can boost crop yields, increase the recharging of groundwater, reduce soil erosion and provide long-term cost savings in operations and maintenance. The research also found that by creating a cooler microclimate, perennial vegetation can increase the efficiency of solar panels, upping their energy output.” 

“Pollinator-friendly solar provides an approach to both the pollinator crisis and the climate crisis that is attractive aesthetically and economically, and potentially scalable. By planting a deep-rooted mix of native flowers and grasses around and even between solar panels that can provide abundant and healthy food for pollinators, developers can provide clean energy while also expanding pollinator habitat … It’s also a somewhat intuitive way to optimize land use, especially as solar infrastructure expands to meet growing demand.”

NPR correspondent Dan Charles identifies another alternative energy source, “… a pit of stinking hog manure is doing its bit to save the world from climate change … It may be a whiff of things to come.“

“This basic idea — turning manure into energy — is not new. Many dairy farms are doing similar things, often using biogas on-site to power a generator … This methane, in fact, is even better than “low-carbon.” Since capturing it actually prevents greenhouse emissions, it’s considered a zero-carbon fuel.”

“… the gas is trapped by a blanket of rugged black plastic that covers the manure pond. The gas lifts the plastic layer and makes it bulge like the floor of a child’s bouncy castle … The gas then gets pumped out to processing stations that remove water vapor and carbon dioxide. What’s left is almost pure methane, also called natural gas, ready to burn in any gas-fired home furnace or electric power plant.”

‘Germophobe’ Donald Trump and ‘Night Owl’ Marjorie Taylor Greene should embrace this alternative power source, if not the others. After all, hog shit is something they’re both familiar with.

Additional information:

Dan Charles, Big Companies Bet on Cleaner Power From Pig Poop Ponds, November 22, 2019, All Things Considered, NPR

Ilana Cohen, Pollinator-Friendly Solar Could be a Win-Win for Climate and Landowners, but Greenwashing is a Worry, November 28, 2020, Inside Climate News

Dustin Solberg, Wind’s Big Footprint: Clean Energy Still Needs Safeguards for Nature, 11/29/2017, Cool Green Science

Steve Tarlton, Sun or Shade, Writes of Nature, August 11, 2022

One thought on “Power by Any Other Name …

  1. Good chuckle at the last sentence!

    I wish solar was more prominent on city buildings or parking garages. Would be much more worthwhile than solar farms in natural areas.


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