Letter: Renewable energy and climate

I am a huge supporter of renewable energy sources where they are practical to apply.

First, I would like to go on record as saying that I have no reason to dispute claims that the earth is warming up and that the burning of fossil fuels is bad for both the environment and people’s health.

I am a huge supporter of renewable energy sources where they are practical to apply.  What I do dispute is some of the claims made in a recent letter (Penticton Western News, Dec. 7, Transition needed now).

Regards to the claim that the job skills required by the renewable energy sector are similar to the fossil fuel sector, I do not agree. I would venture that the generation sides of each sector, which is what we are actually comparing here, have absolutely nothing in common.

Think about it, the job skills necessary for fossil fuel power generation include for example, steam generation, steam turbine and base load control systems.  None of which are required for renewable energy.  Only the power delivery side maybe be compared and they are well established technologies without any prospect representing new industry development.  So the new renewable energy job skills are specific to that industry.

With respect to comments on wind and solar employment levels in the U.S. exceeding coal, gas, oil and nuclear combined, my research contradicts this claim and my search parameters took in the complete fuel cycle.

Wind and solar employment levels barely registered when compared with fossil and nuclear employment levels. How come the nuclear sector has been dragged into the mix? Nuclear power plants do not emit a single gram of CO2 or any other gas that may be responsible for global warming. If anything nuclear power should be promoted as an essential clean energy as it can provide base loads that can melt steel, power car plants and other industries.

Renewable energy sources cannot provide base loads, the sun will not always shine, the wind will not always blow, geothermal lacks capacity, the water levels will fall and the lights on these industries will go out.  Therefore I disagree that only wind, water, solar and geothermal can physically and economically power our future world, they cannot.

With respect to the statement  that only the elimination of the burning of fossil fuels can arrest climate change — talk about putting all of one’s eggs into one basket.  Climate change is occurring but to blame it completely on CO2 is incredibly short sighted. Climate change is coming and we are woefully unprepared for it. Any reasonable objective person reading the science of climate change would conclude that the impact of CO2 on global warming is little more than a guess.

The prediction that a 2 C rise in global temperature would result from a release of CO2 into the atmosphere is perhaps that greatest leap of faith in the history of any science. Even ardent supporters of the negative impact of CO2 on the environment accept that

2 C is nothing more than a guess.  Not only is the 2 C a guess but the impact of 2 C is a guess. Don’t take my word for it; please check creditable sources of which there are plenty. I would add that I do not include many of the ardent supporters of the impact of CO2 on my list of fully informed experts, including Al Gore and Justin Trudeau.

Where I am going with this? By all means reduce the emissions of CO2 and other harmful gases but do not neglect the need to prepare for global warming as a result of other causes including natural causes. Do not assume the battle may be won with a reduction in CO2 emissions. Despite what the pundits may say there may be a very high cost to all of us for reducing CO2 emissions without solving the problem of global warming.

The pundits talk of new clean energy industries being created. I hope so but the current taxpayer subsidies required do not give one confidence in the viability of the new industries to ever turn a stand-alone profit without huge increases in power costs or continued subsidies.

The last thing one should do is what Ontario has done which was to go blindly into the future with a renewable energy plan that has destroyed their industrial base, sent power cost skyward and caused people to chose between food and heat this winter.  Please note, in Ontario the province is contracted to first buy, before nuclear, wind power at four times the cost of nuclear and solar at 20 times the cost of nuclear.  The catastrophic result has been the sale of excess of low cost nuclear power to New York State at a tremendous loss while Ontarians pay for the high cost of renewable power   —  yet nuclear does not emit a single gram of CO2 or other harmful gases.  Where is the sense in that?  Also research into benefits of global warming need to be examined, yes they do exist, as well.

Martin Carney (P. Eng. Retired)

Okanagan Falls