Letter from Gary Minke
Environment – November 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine
I appreciated your practical analysis of the global warming problem several months back. As someone who worked in the energy-minerals industry for nearly 30 years I feel somewhat qualified to toss in my comments.
To the question “What can we do about global warming?” My answer is everything possible! No single energy transformational fix is going to turn the tide, but a series of coordinated approaches will likely bring results quicker than we imagine. The problem-solving potential of American and worldwide entrepreneurs is truly remarkable! Solar, wind, ethanol, more efficient internal combustion engines, nuclear power, greater efficiencies in heating and cooling our homes and offices, developing our own energy resources are all part of the solution. Hybrid and hydrogen engines will also have their niche.
The biggest problem we have to overcome is that it is someone else’s problem to do the fixing. The NIMBY syndrome will hamper whatever plan there might be to help solve the problem. All of us are part of the environmental sin and we all bear some responsibility to help repair the damage. We are hooked on petroleum-fueled lifestyles. Let’s not be hypocritical snobs about it! We drive big vehicles or inefficient clunkers.
We jet boat, water ski, mow our lawns, rip through the forest on our ATVs, motor our huge RVs wherever they will go — it is all great fun! But we don’t want an ethanol plant within 10 miles of our homes. We can’t agree on building windmills 50 miles off our coastline — even if we can’t see them we know they are there. We can’t accept the risk of drilling for gas off the northwest Florida coast. (Forget the risk-benefit analysis or that all the other gulf coastal states have oil and gas pipelines to shore and live with the small risk of spills.)
The Colorado Western Slope folks don’t want closely-spaced gas wells anywhere near them. Building big homes in the wilderness changes the environment for wildlife and your neighbors just as much as those gas valves do. Let the French or Japanese build and enjoy new state-of-the-art nuclear power plants– we will remain dedicated anti-nukes! Solar arrays and windmills are unsightly! Well so are dying trees and ridgeline mansions!
Until we all agree that we are in this environmentally changed world together and we must all bear some risk to help repair the damage that we all helped cause, we can only dream about a better world. Natural gas is better than oil and better than coal for power generation but all can be made cleaner and more efficient. Nuclear power does have to play some role in our energy future. Developing our own petroleum resources is better than relying on Saudi Arabia or Nigeria or Hugo Chavez in the short term until we can gradually replace our gasoline with ethanol or hydrogen, or storage batteries, etc.
Jefferson, Colo., and Southwest Coastal Florida