Saturday, May 30, 2009

Well, he did ask.

Ethical Man on twitter:

What's up? Disappointing response on blog not interested in the future of the world?
about 20 hours ago from web

Leads to:

Has Obama lost his bottle on climate?

I fear that the replies so far might not be quite what was wished for by the author. On any measure. So far, not even ten, in reply to a challenge made by a national broadcaster who has spent and is spending a lot (both money and carbon) to push matters in ways that I frankly don't think the majority of the public are either interested in an or buying. That... is poor enviROI at best... wasteful, elitist vanity programming at worst. Here's my reply:

Prompted by the 'disappointing response' (quantity? quality? Or level of support?) challenge in twitter, I can assure you I care very much about the future of my kids on this planet.

However, I do have some concerns about how well it is being served by those who have either appointed themselves or are in privileged positions to help share information in such a way so free thinking folk can make their minds up in an objective atmosphere. And hence, while the message can often have value, I tend to view the messengers, from individual to corporate, quite critically. Especially when 'they' claim to speak for 'me and mine'.

So, taking that last line of the piece, speaking of using less energy....

I fear I had to crank my eyebrow quite early at the notion of using a helicopter for a few seconds' shot 'to picture the scale' of the gently turning wind farm blades.

Like the Hummer-driving-engineer, it seems that many industries - even green-supportive media - can't seem to 'do their jobs' without breezily excusing away certain compromises that are not often accorded lesser mortals struggling to make a crust. This can create a sense of them vs. us situation, often erring on 'do as we say, not as we still like doing because we're creating 'awareness' between which an empathetic bridge is hard to forge.

I was also a bit intrigued about the priorities that can come across, which seemed to me to be;

1) Making money
2) Reduction in GHGs (not clear if that is to 'target' and hence often subsidy-supported, which often is not quite the same as doing right by the planet) and....
3) Production of enviROI+ energy

I would have thought that, beyond reducing at any viable, reasonable, practical point, the generation of energy in a form that produces the lowest 'harmful' by-products should be the main aim, and any advocacy challenged to prove they are so.

And while gimmicks can have a place, especially to help entertain to encourage education and hence information, they can distract. Hence I'd still like a lot more science, and if issues are not clear-cut, well debated by professional scientists and engineers, and not a gaggle of usual suspect interest groups that may make for good TV or meet agendas, but hardly help me arrive at a view on worthy initiatives to support.

For instance there was one point mentioned that I would have liked delved into a lot more. And that was the fact that this vast wind farm was actually located near a town of just 10,000 folk. Now, maybe that's because it's where the wind is. But how does it stack up against, say solar, on a cradle to grave basis (with subsidies stripped away to get a true cost/benefit comparison. It looked pretty darn sunny there. And, just as I subscribe to the notion of wearing a jummie to crank the thermostat down here in winter, I'd probably suggest a suit and tie might lead to the a/c getting cranked up more than it need be where the sun do shine).

And this in turn leads to further questions on massive generation vs. microgeneration, as surely remote locations at distance from consumption do mean compromises to efficiency of delivery.

These are key points that often get glossed over when the discussion seems mainly to be dominated by interest groups, pols and those involved with money on the line. Even academics can be tainted by dubious associations and hence motivations. Hence contentious areas really require more than a couple a views, preferably around the same table, and moderated by chairperson(s) qualified to keep hyperbole in check and call questionable claims to account.

Not something I see or here very often throughout the MSM, and oddly so considering the criticality of the topic and passions that can be aroused in debate.

Hence the decisions made, not made and bottling of by our currently less than stellar political classes become very hard to call.

ps: Did T Boone's people strap you/Justin to the chair for that interview? You/He looks terrified. Can't think why, Mr. Pickens seems a guy well worth listening to?

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