16 January, 2009

Throwing Out The Baby

I do so admire the clean tech sites like Gizmodo's Treehugger site.  Set up to promote awareness of clean and sustainable technologies, the site is the hippie's answer to existence.  Or is it?  In these two separate articles, Treehugger is expressing very negative sentiment about some of our cleanest technology, solar PV cells.

It's the kind of bullshit wibbling behaviour they've started to become famous to me for.

Every TreeHugger worth their roots loves solar power. After the (not always low) upfront costs are paid back you get free power from the sun, without emitting greenhouse gases or supporting continued extraction of fossil fuels. What’s not to like, right? 

And it's right, in a limited way.  Yes you get "free power from the sun" but THAT'S NOT THE POINT OF DOING IT YOU KNOB ENDS! It's the second bit, the bit about no more fossil fuels and no more greenhouse gas emissions that we do it for!

Unfortunately, both those articles go on to lambaste the solar PV cell industry "stronger supervision needed" and "toxic byproducts: up the wazoo - FFS get over yourself!  Over the 25 year life of those solar panels, they will take away the need for burning fossil fuel or "clean coal" that will more than balance out what it took to make the PV cells in the first place.  Once solar factories cotton that they can eat their own dogfood and use solar electricity to power the manufacturing process, you'll have one less thing to whinge about.  And when, in 25 years' time, they figure out how to extend the life of the arrays or recycle them into better PV cells, another bastion of your whinge will have fallen.

It's like nuclear power - every whiny little greenie is up in arms dead set against nuclear power plant - but the fact remains that even if 10% of them melt down over their lifetimes, they would still provide clean low impact power with less damage to the ecosystem than "clean coal" and fossil fuels and all the manufacturing steps inherent in those would cause in the same time.

Non-Treehugger question - why is the USA wanting to keep GMO's out of their food chain? Considering that the first time two primitive amoeba played mummies and daddies they were already indulging in genetic modification something akin to REussian Roulette?  Don't forget all those cheap DNA labs in people's homes, with people now hacking DNA.  Nothing will remain sacrosanct any more.  And your "policies" won't be able to do a damn thing to stop any of them anyway.  These GMOs, by the way, are designed mostly to have less impact on the environment, provide better yields or better quality, and are going to be the only way to save the States (and soon, other countries) from famines.

But no, in both cases the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater, and it's usually done in an effort to make sure baby stays clean.  Hate to say it but being ecologically sound also means being good to ourselves, and it means that we need to pick the best of a not very perfect set of options.

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