Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How do you strike a balance between green technology and the environment?

On the next Your Call, we'll have a conversation about the tradeoffs of green technology. Google and General Electric have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in solar and wind projects. Environmentalists and native rights activists say the solar plan in the Mojave Desert should be relocated to protect wildlife and sacred sites. Can the drawbacks of big green tech offset the benefits? Join us at 10 or send an email to It's Your Call with Rose Aguilar and you.

Michael Haederle, contributing editor for Miller-McCune Magazine, where his recent articles are "Rooftop Solar Power to the People?" and "Are New Solar Power Projects Anti-Environmental?"

Matthew Kahn, professor at the UCLA Institute of the Environment, the Department of Economics, and the Department of Public Policy and author of Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment.

Bill Powers, member of the Solar Done Right coalition and principal of Powers Engineering

Click to Listen: How do you strike a balance between green technology and the environment?

1 comment:

Pierce Thorne said...

Q: "How do you strike a balance between green technology and the environment?"

A: By thinking a bit harder about the problem (and realizing that with a bit of creativity, the question poses a false dichotomy.)

The question that was offered in the teaser touches on the fact that an energy company wants to put a solar farm out "in the middle of nowhere" but is facing resistance.

This stems from our (American) habit, from having so much of everything, that we don't really have to spend much time thinking about its use. So many things we make and use are single-taskers, because we haven't been required to think otherwise. Somebody thought "solar farm. single task. lots of space..." and said "desert", after all "there's nothing out there. But why?

First of all, why in the middle of nowhere? We're not talking nuclear or coal-fired monstrosities that need to be kept far away from densely poplulated areas because of some health hazard. Being in the middle of nowhere means less efficient energy: transmission lines lose significant amounts of the energy they carry. So for something that doesn't need to be far away, it doesn't make sense.

But a solar farm needs lots of real estate. Can we think of large spaces that don't need to be far away?

How about parking lots? Get a lease agreement with the lot owner, and you get a two-fer: lots of energy, and cars parking there don't get hot in the summer, since the place is shady.

How about freeways? Building tops, and even (tall) building sides? Less oil burned running air conditioning, more energy created for other uses.

Let's not be so narrow-minded and focus on single-tasker utilizations of land. That's where both green tech and environment concerns come together.