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View Diary: A Fired up Al Gore Calls for Civil  Disobedience (348 comments)

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  •  Gore's right.... (15+ / 0-)

    The thing that has puzzled me for ages and ages is this:

    WHY haven't we got anyone using, researching and developing and investing in solar energy and wind energy to a massive degree...???  If we do, I certainly have never heard about it.  Dribs and drabs of some experimental energy projects here and there I hear about now and then, but nothing to a huge degree.  I know reliable wind energy is available on the western to Midwestern plains (not sure about eastern states).

    There are wind turbines in the southwest corner of my state.  I'm not sure if they're all on private property or not, but they do sell power to the electric company (or companies? - I don't know how many there are in this state).  It was quite a while ago, but there was some in-state news info about wind turbines on farms a few years ago.

    From a PBS program a while back (and some web sites), I know that Denmark has a lot of wind turbines right on the sea along the shore (England has theirs in the sea, too) that are providing power to their people, and IIRC there was one farmer who had solar panels on his barn and he sells the excess energy to the local power company and usually has no electricity bills to run the rest of his farm.  Another person had a field full of solar panels and was selling electricity to the local power company.  There are places in Germany along the autobahn and in some fields that have solar panels.  Ergo: I know it is economically feasible to produce wind and solar energy, otherwise these countries would not be already using both or either and/or both.

    From the same PBS show there was a huge arid area of California that had a massive amount of solar panels (the earth beneath was no good for farming) and the power was sold to the local power company.

    So, I know at least wind and solar energy technology is available and it is successful where it is used.

    So why can't wind and solar energy be utilized on an even larger scale?  Or put wind turbines up on individual farms for each family unit to use and what they don't use they can sell to the power grid?  Ditto solar panels that could be installed on barns or houses?  Once these things are manufactured on a massive scale and sold in mass quantities, the prices would have to come down. (Remember when computers were first sold and how many thousands of dollars they cost?  Once produced in mass quantities, the prices came down dramatically, which then made it practical for more and more people to buy them, and now even poor people have computers.)

    WHAT is the hold-up with utilizing what we have for clean wind and solar energy, researching ways to make the technology even more efficient and economical for the average person to use...?

    The only practical reason for building nuclear or coal power plants would then be to have them for stand-by power, not for primary power sources.  We already know both kinds of energy are huge pollution sources (and nuclear is really hazardous and no one knows where to put the fatal nuclear waste, fer pete's sake!).

    So, I'm back to asking:  WHY aren't wind and solar energy being developed, manufactured (right here in the US), and installed all over the country, and whatever individual families don't use they can sell to power companies.  Or why aren't power companies utilizing wind and solar energy on their own?  One would think it would be to the benefit of power companies to make and sell non-polluting energy...?

    What am I missing - aside from the fact that it may not benefit some stupid CEO and keep him from getting a few million as a yearly bonus from his corporation?  I don't get it.

    [I should think it would cost a helluva lot LESS than $700 Billion dollars to convert the entire US to wind and solar energy than to suffer the indignities of pollution from offshore oil rigs breaking during a hurricane or medical costs for thousands of people downwind from nuclear or coal power plants getting sick.  If this nation must go into debt, at least let it be for a good cause that would benefit a lot of people, like converting power plants to wind or solar energy....]


    by NonnyO on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 12:01:54 PM PDT

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    •  Thanks, NonnyO, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NonnyO, bigjacbigjacbigjac

      for your excellent post, with incisive thought and questions.

      Please see my post later in the comments; it contains some key answers that are very relevant to what you wrote.

      #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

      by ivote2004 on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 01:03:48 PM PDT

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    •  Why? (6+ / 0-)

      Because 'Old' oil and coal control the dialog on Capital Hill with regard to energy.

      There might be lobbyists working for solar and wind companies, but you can bet they're outnumbered, out spent and out in the cold with regard to access.

      Our government is corrupted by big corporations with deep pockets. Oil and coal being two of the worse offenders.

      McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

      by Pescadero Bill on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 01:07:14 PM PDT

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      •  Oops. Make that 'Capitol Hill' (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO, pgm 01, bigjacbigjacbigjac

        McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

        by Pescadero Bill on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 01:09:05 PM PDT

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      •  Hmmm.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        James Kresnik

        There must be a way to break the corporate oil (and coal) monopoly in DC, especially now that Dickie and Georgie and their ties to big oil will be gone from DC...???

        Yes, I've been aware that they and the auto manufacturers have been putting up roadblocks about switching from oil to any other energy sources for electricity for our homes and businesses or for cars, but if people just stop buying big cars completely, cut down on driving except for work and necessary trips to the grocery store only, that should hit their obscene profit margins eventually.  Not giving customers what they want/need is bad for business.

        My '72 Dodge Colt got 30-33 mpg, and that includes driving in the mountains on long trips.  Average mpg has not risen, has gone down, in fact, in the intervening years, and tbe vehicles have consistently gotten bigger, which means average mpg stays low because it takes a lot of energy to tote that much weight down the road.

        Someone had a diary fairly recently that mentioned US auto manufacturers were making a car for sale in Europe only that gets something like 50-55 mpg, but it would not be for sale in the US.  How utterly ridiculous...!  SOME of us here in the US would be interested in a very practical small vehicle that gets good gas mileage...!

        Of course, in the '70s it was vogue to drive a practical small car that got good gas mileage.  Nowadays too many people are still stuck in "gotta have a big car" mode (maybe two big cars) for whatever obscure reasons.  Ick.

        But, why would it have to be corporate oil/coal to dictate how homes and businesses are heated or cooled or running electric plants...?  Aren't they often two different kinds of corporations?  Lots of local power plants are cooperatives who get their money from their customers.  If their customers start clamoring for wind and solar energy, perhaps they'll put some money into both kinds of clean energy....


        by NonnyO on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 02:06:44 PM PDT

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    •  Because you can't Monty Burns the Sun... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PinHole, imabluemerkin

      I've traveled extensively in Germany along the Autobahn and they have got boatloads of wind and solar.

      There is also coal and nuke too visible, but they're doing it, for sure.

      McCain/Palin '08 - Government Sucks and We'll Prove It!

      by k9disc on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 01:27:47 PM PDT

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      •  ???Monty Burns??? (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry, I haven't heard that term.

        The US has boatloads of wind and solar, too....

        Have you ever traveled/lived anywhere from the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains to roughly the tree line that starts just a tiny bit east of the MN/ND/SD border?  Wind, wind, wind, wind, wind.... lots of wind (it's said a few pioneer women were driven mad by the wind that never stopped; I believe it).  Huge tracts of flat land roughly 900 miles wide from west to east, most used for farming (it's boring as hell to drive through in August, lots of dun-colored grasses, grain stubble, no trees to speak of unless one gets near where there's a river or creek).

        In certain areas of the US wind energy would be easier to harness than solar, but it should be possible to do both in those areas.


        by NonnyO on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 01:49:45 PM PDT

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        •  Monty Burns of the Simpsons (0+ / 0-)

          "Because you can't Monty Burns the Sun."

          You can't shut it off if people don't pay their bills.  

          As if we could make things better without making them worse.

          by A Voice on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 02:08:19 PM PDT

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          •  Oh... I don't watch The Simpsons... (0+ / 0-)

            Right now the solar panels are expensive enough that they're worth many years of monthly utility bills, so it's worth it to be able to tell the power companies to f.u. and not pay monthly bills to corporations.

            All the stories I've seen on TV regarding solar or wind energy indicate there's almost always power left over and the individuals can sell the power to the electric companies (could be they're local electric cooperatives, not huge multi-national corporations).  That electricity can then be sold to businesses that can't generate their own power or need extra electricity to run.

            I'm in favor of anything that will starve corporations.


            by NonnyO on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 02:24:28 PM PDT

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    •  Cheaper to burn coal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in a nutshell, it's cheaper..

      Commercial wind turbines cost about 3.5 million each.

      Any power company undertaking a massive wind project would have to raise rates.  Customers would bitch.

      Someone calculated we need to build 100,000 or so wind turbines to provide enough electricity to get us off coal.. so that would be about 350 Billion.

      I sure as hell would rather take half the bailout and spend it on wind than give it to the fat cats on Wall Street!

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

      by Skeptical Bastard on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 02:23:09 PM PDT

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      •  But is it cheaper.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivote2004, gdwtch52

        ... to pay the insurance or medical bills when people come down with lung diseases?  Or clean up an environment polluted by coal?  Or heal the mining pit in the earth after the coal has been mined?  Ditto nuclear (but that one's far more hazardous because of the nuclear waste that's toxic for hundreds of thousands of years).

        In the long run, even if the initial outlay costs a lot, it would end up being far more healthy for people and animals and the earth to have wind and solar energy, and thus prove far more economical over a period of many, many years.

        As far as corporate profits.... Well, after these last few years of record-setting obscene profits for oil corporations, I daresay most ordinary people have only one attitude to or about corporations:  "Fuck you!  We can go build our own solar panels and wind turbines and install them all far cheaper than you bastards.  You got our money, that's enough.  We can band together like our ancestors used to and help each other install and hook these things up to power grids and do the work and installation for free for the elderly and disabled.  Now, all you corporations can get out of our faces.  If you refuse to lead, then either follow or get out of the way!"


        by NonnyO on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 02:39:35 PM PDT

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        •  You're preachin' to the choir here.. (0+ / 0-)

          I was just giving you "their" reasons..  I fully agree with you except for nuclear.  

          I think nuclear is a good short-term option (30-40 years) until we get solar and wind ramped up.  Think about this for one minute.. How many homes and businesses in the northeast heat with heating oil?  A few well-placed nuke plants can provide cheap electricity and we can convert all those homes to electric heating.  The last time I calculated that, it was about 250 million barrels of heating oil a year.

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

          by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 04:55:06 AM PDT

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      •  Economies of scale (0+ / 0-)

        will inevitably drive down the price of the turbines down.

        When will liberals grow a spine? In the next decade maybe? Can I get an ETA on that? -TocqueDeville

        by James Kresnik on Wed Sep 24, 2008 at 07:59:21 PM PDT

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