So, a friend of mine who will remain anonymous to protect the guilty has been heavily and actively promoting a end to oil pipelines, and speaking about the energy extraction industry in ways that make it pretty clear they consider the energy extractors to be evil and motivated only by greed.

This is extra-ironical to me because this friend of mine spends a LOT of time on jet airplanes, so them complaining about oil extraction is a lot like the addict complaining about the existence of their dealer. I am not sure they are aware of how many megawatt-hours of energy it takes to hurl them across oceans, but I would assume they at least have the sense of the order of magnitude involved.

The truth is, the people who work in the extraction of energy are not mustache-twirling villains – they are good, honorable people, often doing a very physical and dirty difficult job. And, even though I would run the grid very differently if it were up to me – nuclear for baseline load – next generation nuclear that can burn what we currently think of as waste and is meltdown proof – and wind and solar for peak load – even with the grid operating the way it is now our energy network saves far more lives than it costs. I also certainly wouldn’t do fracking, because clean water is far more valuable than oil or natural gas, and it probably takes more energy than they’re recovering to return the water they’re using to clean. But, while I would run it differently, they are running it. They are keeping the lights on, and I think we should recognize that. If we asked them to run it cleaner, and offered to pay the larger bills that would result in the first few years from installing clean capacity, I am sure they would.

And we are transitioning to a better grid. Just look up a graph of wind generation in the US over the last 20 years. We are not doing it particularly quickly or efficiently, but we are doing it.

This definitely falls under the category of a topic where I am fairly sure despite all the moaning, groaning, and disasterizing, we will get where we need to be. In the meantime – it is important to have the new infrastructure up and working before you disassemble the old infrastructure. My friend who’s so critical of the power mix doesn’t do any local generation despite having quite a large stream wandering through their backyard and plenty of sun falling on their land, nor have they even called their utility to try and make arrangements to buy their power from a cleaner mix. Both of which would be a far better way to effect change than posting about how we should stop building pipelines on facebook.

Long term, do I want a better grid? Absolutely. But I think it’s in general a bad idea to identify the people who are keeping the power on as villains. I have similar feelings about Monsanto. I’d do things very differently if it were up to me, but they are a part of feeding hundreds of millions of people, and I don’t see all the people lambasting them proposing alternate solutions.

In general I guess I feel the world would be a better place if people would wait to complain about things until they had a viable alternate solution to propose. I acknowledge my position here is hypocritical insofar as I probably complain about things all the time without having a alternate solution to propose – but I do have it as a long term goal to get to a place where I don’t complain about things until I have a better idea in mind.

Another long term goal of mine is to do less “us” vs “them”-ing. I think that’s part of what my friend is participating in here when they talk about the evils of the extraction energy.. thinking “they” are somehow less than “us”.

One Response to “Transition..”

  1. Steve Seman Says:

    That is the most sane and honest post I have seen in a long time. I agree with you 100%. There are so many things in this world that need to change. Some have, more will eventually. Yes, we are all hypocrites on some level. Offering solutions aren’t enough, they need to be implemented. Don’t shoot the ferryman until the bridge is built…

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