Why Renewable?

The simple answer is that we have to wean ourselves from greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels, which are heating up the Earth’s atmosphere in a way that is puts the future of the planet in jeopardy.

While that may sound dramatic, it is reality.  The Earth’s climate is changing, and scientists unequivocally agree that the cause is the greenhouse gases that are released when fossil fuels are mined and burned. We have already begun to see the havoc that this can create – from unprecedented monster storms to the astonishing rate at which the ice caps are melting – and this is only the beginning.  Whether from climate changed induced health problemsthreat to our food supply, or the risks to our coastland, everyone will be affected by climate change, no matter where they live.

Fortunately there is a ready solution, namely renewable energy sources such as wind, sunlight, rain, waves, tides and geothermal heat.  They work by harnessing the natural cycles of the energy around us, including the movement of wind and water, the rays of the sun, heat generated underground, and carbohydrates in plants, to supply energy in a clean and sustainable way. And given that they are constantly being replenished, unlike fossil fuels, these sources of energy are effectively infinite. The technologies for using them are produced and readily available here in the U.S., and increasingly affordable. And contrary to what many people believe, these energy sources have the potential to power our entire 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 Z. Jacobson at Stanford University (our Barnfest keynote speaker in 2011) is even more optimistic. 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 solarwind, and geothermal will improve air quality, reduce global warming emissions, create new industries and jobs, and move America toward a cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy future.



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