Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sun shine on my shoulder

Last night's Wild River Audubon chapter meeting at the local library was an absolute treat. Pat Collins, who teaches 7th grade life science in the local schools, gave a wonderful, amusing, informative and heartening presentation on global warming, climate change, energy conservation and renewable energy. I'm going to use him and his information as an inspiration to get solar panels for the homestead or, at least, have a damn good reason why not. Unfortunately, Xcel Energy may turn out to be that good reason. We'll start tracking this more closely since Xcel provides much (most?) of the electricity they supply to Minnesota from either coal or nuclear plants. I think the world would be much better off if we eliminated both and relied much more on solar. At home, we've already swapped most of our incandescents for either CFLs or LEDs. We've got a new 97% efficient furnace. The cars we drive are reasonably fuel efficient. We're making progress with our carbon footprint.

Sun power for solar energy
Sun power for solar energy    © harrington

In New England, where I was raised, there was a strong emphasis on living within one's means, including not spending down "the capital." It seems to me that using fossil fuels is the energy equivalent of spending down the capital. For nuclear, we still haven't agreed on a "permanent depository," so how do we justify continuing to create more waste? The solution I'm thinking of would involve freestanding panels in the "back yard," similar to but smaller than the set up at the Audubon North Woods Center.

Audubon North Woods energy array
Audubon North Woods energy array  © harrington

It might be advisable to spend some time considering the questions raised in Untermeyer's poem Faith before we determine our next energy strategy.

Faith

By Louis Untermeyer 
What are we bound for? What’s the yield
   Of all this energy and waste?
Why do we spend ourselves and build
       With such an empty haste?

Wherefore the bravery we boast?
   How can we spend one laughing breath
When at the end all things are lost
       In ignorance and death? . . .

The stars have found a blazing course
   In a vast curve that cuts through space;
Enough for us to feel that force
       Swinging us through the days.

Enough that we have strength to sing
   And fight and somehow scorn the grave;
That Life’s too bold and bright a thing
       To question or to save.

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