The simple answer to why we need renewables is that if we don’t wean ourselves off of the fossil fuels that emit the greenhouse gases that are heating up the earth’s atmosphere, the future of the planet will be in jeopardy.
That may sound dramatic, but sadly it’s true. The climate of the earth is changing and scientists unequivocally agree that the greenhouse gases that are released when fossil fuels are mined and burned, is the cause. We have already started to see the havoc that this is creating – from unprecedented monster storms to the astonishing rate at which the ice caps are melting and this is only the beginning. Everyone, whether they like it or not, will be affected as climate change causes health problems, threatens our food supply, and wipes out our coastland.
Fortunately the the solution is the renewable energy technologies that are continually replenished by wind, sunlight, rain, waves, tides and geothermal heat. They work by using the natural cycles of the energy around us, such as the movement of wind and water, the heat and light of the sun, warmth from underground and carbohydrates in plants to supply energy in a sustainable way. Renewable energy is clean, affordable, domestic, and effectively infinite. it has the potential to power our economy.
The June 2012 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report (Renewable Electricity Futures Study) concluded that “renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country.”
The forecast by a team of researchers headed by Mark Jacobsen at Stanford (our Barnfest keynote speaker in 2011) is even more optimistic, and their plan – “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030” (Scientific American, November 2009) projects that New York State could get 100% of its energy from a combination of renewables by 2050.
How we implement renewable energy is very important. In the Catskills we have an opportunity to implement renewable energy on a local scale. This is already being done in other communities like Watertown, MA, which has satisfied the town’s needs with a combination of multiple renewable energy solutions.
Implementing renewable energy solutions such as solar, wind, and geothermal will improve air quality, reduce global warming emissions, create new industries and jobs, and move America toward a cleaner, safer, and affordable energy future.