Nearly everyone has seen the articles alleging that the future of clean energy is pitting environmentalists against one another. And the often expressed sentiment that logically follows: "Why don't those (insert foulmouthed adjective here) environmentalists get on board with green energy?" These articles are wildly misleading. This is hardly a case of greens versus greens-- this debate has the world's largest shovel pitted against the greens.
You see, renewable energy isn't inherently green. While producing renewable energy would ultimately be cleaner than continuing on our current path, building the infrastructure to develop renewable energy the way it is currently envisioned equates with the mass destruction of open space, natural areas, and precious ecosystems. It means making serious environmental concessions that have long-term implications for natural resources- including completely denuding hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine landscapes.
And this isn't simply a matter of Green versus Green. Environmental groups aren't proposing landscape-clearing giant mega-utility renewable energy installations that you can see from space. Who is? The man, power companies, lobbyists, and private investors who stand to earn millions of dollars. Solar isn't just sunlight anymore. It is a $38 billion per year industry and growing. Under current proposals in the California desert, we'd be giving these businesses quite a subsidy in the form of our very own publicly-owned lands. Greens?!? Even rednecks should be up in arms over this land grab.
Its true that some enviros are pushing for cleaner energy while others are fighting to protect public lands, but there are still others that noone is telling you about. Those who believe we can have both.
We don't have to plow over every inch of the earth in order to have renewable energy. We can carefully review all of our options. Have we thoroughly investigated developing renewable energy on multiple scales, including places that have already been developed, such as the rooftops of existing businesses and residences, paved surfaces including parking lots and highways, brownfields, or atop state and federally owned buildings and parking lots?
If we are going to build renewable energy installations in pristine landscapes, let's take the time to ensure that we do so carefully. We can conduct research and create well thought out plans so that we don't cut off migration paths and corridors for avian, terrestrial, and aquatic species, we can take the time to identify and protect sensitive cultural and natural resources, prevent erosion, keep our watersheds clean, and keep habitat fragmentation down to a minimum. Why fast-track rampant destruction when instead we could take precautions to preserve open space and protect natural landscapes?
NIMBY? Please. That's not what I'm saying- I'm saying PIMBY. Put It in My BackYard! Put it on my roof, over my driveway, on top of nearby buildings and covering parking lots- do whatever it takes to develop renewable energy and preserve natural landscapes.
I believe that we should cautiously scrutinize renewable energy development plans. We have the opportunity to ensure that we develop renewable energy in an environmentally conscientious way. By all means, let's take it.