Power switch

Ronald Reagan once said “all the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.” Tim Flannery points out that the waste from an average nuclear plant will fill a pool, in sixty years. Neither of these odd images quite conveys the enormity and persistence of the threat of radioactivity. It’s toxic and lethal, and it doesn’t go away.

The good news about nukes is that the clean and safe alternatives are eclipsing them. Wind and solar now possess a generating capacity comparable to nuclear in its heydey. That was before Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima.

Thoreau was right, we’ve taken our indefatigable solar “servant” for granted for too long, and shot the breeze too.  But these “profoundly disruptive technologies” are now poised to transform our economies and our lives. “Renewables do away with the concept of businesses and individuals as simple customers,” turning us into “prosumers (producer-consumers) who compete with the electricity utilities at the same time that they buy from them.” Healthy competition indeed!

Google Earth is kinda creepy, with its snooping capability, but it has a splendid solar silver lining: panel installers can give you a remote estimate, save a trip, and pass the savings along to you. Just one of the ways costs are cut when we tap the oldest power source we know. 
Elon Musk: “The sun radiates more energy to the Earth in a few hours than the entire human population consumes from all sources in a year.” We just have to capture and store it, and maybe Musk is about to show us how. If Tesla’s “Giga factory” can produce cheap and efficient batteries, that “would probably put the cost of owning an electric vehicle (EV) below that of a cheap, average gasoline-burner.” 
Wouldn’t it be nice if we used our free speech rights to talk up such possibilities in public, out on the quad and elsewhere? Instead, the only free speakers we tend to hear on our campus are the ones who come to tell us we’re on the highway to hell. Not so, Mr. “Open Air Preacher.” We’re on the road to a sustainability, if we keep our eyes open.

6 am/7:07, 66/77/50, 5:54
Happy birthday Older Daughter!

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