This is not intended to be a rant or a political statement – merely an impassioned opinion. Okay, perhaps the headline is a (little) bit over the top, I borrowed it from the recent wizbang article, Obama’s ‘green jobs’ fizzle. However, given my position on the subject, I couldn’t come up with a more appropriate replacement.
When I started a small design/build company in 1983, my second project was a partial berm residence. At that time, many of the private building related energy reducing strategies were passive solar and/or earthen bunker structures, drawing on principles going as far back in time as the caveman. “Renewable Energy” technology was practically non-existent, with green technology companies struggling to hang on and keep their heads above water. It was apparent for renewable energy to progress and the technology to succeed, the industry needed to be substantially subsidized by private investors and, to some extent, the government.
Fortunately, private investments in renewable energy technology began to materialize, and as a result the industry steadily evolved in a positive direction. Additionally, organizations such as the U.S.Green Building Council (USGBC) came on the scene and developed green building rating systems that promoted renewable energy. Unfortunately however, during the past several years, politicos have taken control, in my opinion, to gain political capital from large corporate players and environmentalists. In their efforts to “appease”, many of these policy makers are ill-informed, misguided and, seemingly, concerned more about the political bandwagons they associate with than being responsible environmental stewards. So what could go wrong? To begin, as we’ve witnessed recently with AGW and Cap n’ Trade, these (failed) policy proposals are extremely detrimental to those of us who support and advocate a more reasonable pro-environment position. It’s proving difficult to get consumers attention when rebuttals to these devisive policies are garnering most of the spotlight. The best selling author Michael Crichton coined the phrase “Environmentalism as a Religion“.
Wind turbines? Not much coming from the environmentalists, or the government for that matter, about the impact of these massive wind turbines on the bat habitat. Farmers depend heavily on bats to help control pests and in Pennsylvania alone, bats save farmers an estimated $277 million annually. High speed rail? Several states have returned stimulus funds when they realized the untenable costs associated with maintaining this form of mass transit. The California High Speed Rail Project will cost more than expected – much more than the original estimated cost of $33 billion as presented to the voters. That estimate was revised to $43 billion, and if the entire system over runs the budget by the same percentage as the first leg is expected to, the total cost will likely be somewhere between $63 – $87 billion dollars. This project is over budget before a single foot of track has been laid. Due in large part, most ironically, to environmental impact studies. This has become a national embarrassment.
Wizbang links to the MIT article, Venture Capitalists Back Away from Clean Energy. This should be the real concern here, not the government or the politicians that control government at any point in time. They will continue to be recycled much the same as the seasons.
As governments around the world are scaling back support for renewable energy, venture capitalists are shifting their clean technology investment strategy. They’re focusing less on high-risk technologies and more on ideas that could have a faster payoff but a smaller impact, such as technologies for improving energy efficiency. The shift is raising concerns about how innovative energy technologies will be commercialized.
And now government support is being cut, and some analysts doubt that the fast growth of the clean energy markets can be sustained. Germany, Italy, and Spain are cutting back subsidies for renewable energy.
Seasons come and seasons go… some just create more disturbance than others.