Alternatives to alternative energy

By Ozzie Zehner | March 7, 2012

Alternatives to alternative energy

In this interview, Green Illusions author Ozzie Zehner says that alternative energy technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines have become fetishes and spectacles that do nothing to offset coal use. Instead, he says, these technologies serve mostly as symbols that distract Americans and prevent them from considering cleaner and more affordable solutions to climate change and other environmental problems. He argues that subsidizing alternative energy technologies actually has a boomerang effect: By making energy cheaper for consumers, it increases the demand for energy. Zehner criticizes electric cars as inventions that are no better for the environment than gasoline-powered vehicles and that simply perpetuate a vehicle-centered culture. He describes how media coverage of energy-producing technologies such as solar cells and biofuels soars along with gas prices, while coverage of energy-saving technologies such as insulation stagnates. In Zehner’s view, Americans don’t have an energy crisis; they have a consumption crisis. He recommends that, instead of concentrating so much effort on developing alternative technologies, each of which comes with an unavoidable downside, environmentalists should focus on social and political programs—he cites youth cycling programs as one example—that are good for public health as well as the planet. Zehner suggests that such programs need to provide immediate personal benefits and long-term climate stabilization.                   

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Keywords: Europe, alliance, deterrence
Topics: Uncategorized

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Annette Hunter
Annette Hunter
4 years ago

Our existential crisis of today is neither directly one of lack of energy supplies, nor of excess consumption. It is of excess consumption of CO2 producing energy supplies. If solar panels allow someone to consume more energy, yet release no CO2, we are closer to a solution. Climate change is a crisis which requires all of the above. No one approach can achieve the dramatic reductions in CO2 required in the next twenty years. All must be done at once. Replacement of CO2 releasing power with carbon neutral power. The replacement of transportation fuels with electric vehicles and carbon neutral… Read more »