Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day - Technology and Tradeoffs

On Earth Day, there are two things to remember. One is that fossil fuels are limited and have consequences - very serious ones - concerning their continued use.  The other is that everything involves tradeoffs.  Wind power does cost us scenic vistas (you have to put the mills where the wind is) and, to some degree unavoidably, adds noise pollution and a major bird hazard.  Solar requires major extraction and manufacturing industries which themselves have significant footprints, not to mention land in sunny spots and backup/storage systems including conventional power.  I'm not saying we should not keep pushing these technologies - we absolutely should - but we have to be realistic.  Meanwhile, the best thing we can do for Mother Earth is press research on commercial fusion power. (The second-best thing is recycle our plastics - easy to do, but easy to forget about.  Look up the documentary Midway and you'll never forget again.)

Finally, I have sometimes looked askance at authors who use every occasion to push their own books, but - well, here I go anyway, because I think mine do fit the spirit of this occasion.  On Earth Day, we should all recognize just how diverse the animal kingdom is, how many species we are still discovering, and how many are still out there to find.  There are still mysteries to solve. 

Rumors of Existence (1995, Hancock House)
Shadows of Existence (2004, Hancock House)

No comments: