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Let's Actually Talk About Energy

Let's Actually Talk About Energy

0316-OCUTCORNER-japan-nuclear-crisis_full_600.jpgLet us take a moment to examine some of the stories going on in the energy sector.
1. Japan has raised the severity rating of its nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to the highest, matching the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, after increasing radiation prompted the government to widen the evacuation zone and aftershocks rocked the country. Additionally, there has been 10,000 tons of low-level radioactive water dumped into the ocean, most likely causing damage to the local fisheries.
2. Here in the United States, mountain top removal, the process that blows up the top of a mountain to access the coal underneath, has destroyed 500 Appalachian Mountains, decimated 1 million acres of forest, and buried 2000 miles of streams. Check out a new movie "The Last Mountain" for more information.

3. In Upstate New York, the practice of hydrofracking, in which high pressured water and chemicals are shot into the ground to reach natural gas reserves, has caused the contamination of local water sources. This has been made most famous by the movie Gasland, in which a man is able to light the water from his kitchen sink on fire, due to the chemicals in the water.
4. Lastly, we are commemorating the one year anniversary of the BP Oil spill in which eleven workers were killed and millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. The damage is still be assessed and we truly won't know the impact of the spill for decades to come.
What is the purpose of bringing all of these stories to the forefront? To take a moment to realize that our energy consumption, which shows no sign of decreasing any time soon, has real environmental and health consequences.
We need energy and I am not here to say that any of these aforementioned sources do not have potential benefits. I am here to say that we need to have a real energy discussion. For every single energy source, we need to examine its true cost and risk. What will the environmental impact be, how will it effect our health and safety, and how can we ensure that situations like what is going on in Japan don't happen again. We need to allow for new innovations in the energy market. This most importantly includes providing subsidies and grants for renewable energies. Of course they are not perfect right now, but their potential is significant. The answer to our energy crisis may be solar or wind or maybe something completely new that is yet undiscovered.
It is time for all of us, and our lawmakers in particular, to have a true discussion on how to bring our nation into the twenty-first century rather than relying on old and outdated methods that will negatively affect our planet and our health for centuries to come.

Published: 4/15/2011

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