We do face a conundrum in responding to the BP oil spill, but it is not that there are no good alternatives to fossil fuels (“Oil Spill Reveals Crude Conundrum,” Editorial, May 28). The real conundrum is how to rouse the public to demand clean energy.
Without this pressure industry, abetted by government, will continue business — and devastation — as usual.
The alternatives to fossil fuels are ready now. We just aren’t using them. Solar thermal plants in the Southwest could provide nearly seven times the electricity currently generated from all U.S. sources. An Israeli company built nine solar thermal plants in California in the 1980s. These plants have operated for decades with zero cost for fuel and emitting zero pollution. In fact, the most promising of all alternatives to fossil fuels is reducing how much we use through efficiency measures.
The BP oil disaster has made it clear that if we don’t reduce our demand for fossil fuels we are in for a lot more trouble. Conventional sources of coal, oil and gas are running out, and industry is turning to harder-to-reach deposits. The BP oil spill from a well drilled in deep water is just one example. Removing the tops of mountains to get at coal in Appalachia, and injecting water and chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas in upstate New York, are two more. Government regulators cannot possibly keep up with these new developments.
Clean energy is within reach. We should not be allowing fossil fuel companies to wreak havoc on the earth, destroy livelihoods and threaten our health. Jews are more aware of the politics of oil than many other Americans. We need to express our outrage over the oil spill, and keep at it until our political leaders respond with a bipartisan, proactive energy policy that makes risky deep-water drilling unnecessary.