To the Editor:
My wife and I picked up copies of your publication last night while waiting for a pizza to be made, and we both had the same reaction – your paper is inflammatory in the extreme. While the situation of world climate change certainly is a biggie, there is a large element of ‘preaching to the choir’ in your paper that turns off people who have already done as much as they reasonably can do to limit their impact on the environment. The fact is, the environment is already damaged in ways unrelated to climate change, but strongly related to human population growth, and THAT is the PROBLEM. Since I perused your front page yesterday and now, the world population has grown by approximately 100,000 people. If all the people in Vermont dropped off the face of the earth today, their numbers would be replenished in less than 7 days time. Understanding that fact casts a blurry haze on the importance of me buying a light bulb that saves 25 watts an hour. We cannot fix this problem with technology that we have today. When the technology is available, it will be deployed by the public service companies, not individuals in their back yards, individuals who have an extra $40,000 laying around looking for a project. Thank you for considering my comments.
Thank you for your letter. I must say I was a bit taken aback by the idea that Green Energy Times is “inflammatory in the extreme.” Reviewing the issue you were reading, I could see why you might feel this way. I think you need to balance views on the dangers of climate change with what is understood about current technology to deal with the problem.
To begin with your last point, it is not necessary to have anything remotely close to $40,000 to get a solar system for a household. We have pointed out repeatedly that for Vermont residents it is not necessary to have much more than the ability to pay a monthly electric bill. Green Mountain Power and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont are working together to make it possible for many people to purchase a system on credit and have the payments on the same electric bill with credits for electricity fed into the system. The immediate net effect is a reduction in payments, which will eventually go to nearly zero. There are a number of other organizations that offer similar financial packages both in Vermont and elsewhere.
Next, the consensus is that we actually do have all the technology we need to deal with climate change. And we do not have to wait for utility companies to act. You need not take this on the word of the Green Energy Times editors. Such financial institutions as UBS, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley have given warnings on US utilities because the market is changing so fast that they may not be able to stop “grid defections” as people find it less expensive to go off grid. This is a situation they see developing in the next three to four years. Other organizations with similar views include Lawrence Berkley National Laboratories, the University of Delaware, Lazard, and Navigant. We have seen projections from such organizations that our civilization could be 100% powered by renewables as early as 2040, based on current technology alone.
We agree that the population is too large. That is, however, not an area of our expertise, and we know that climate change and energy are too important to ignore. We do what we can.
George Harvey, G.E.T. staff