07 January 2008

Gaining Energy

I got one of those thirty-hour stomach bugs this weekend, so I didn't get to unveil my cool Sunday column this past weekend because I could barely get off the couch. Stay tuned!

As I slowly regain my own energy, I thought I'd pass along two energy-related news items, complete with short, grumpy commentary:

Detroit Free Press: "Ford to unveil eco-friendlier engine"

I know embarrassingly little about how cars work. Seriously, Car Talk is the source of virtually all my automotive knowledge. But even I know about turbocharing. I even wrote a report about it in my sophomore dynamics class.

Yes, implementing new technologies into any complex machine is a difficult task. And, yes, I realize this article mentions that the EcoBoost derives its performance "with a combination of turbocharging and direct injection technology" (emphasis added). But, damnit, why couldn't we have had this thing five or even ten years ago? It's awfully hard not to assume it's just because of industry lobbyists fighting against emissions standards. Better late than never, though (one hopes).

Muskegon Chronicle: "Pondering wind energy possibilities"

No speculation is necessary about why many wind energy projects don't go forward, though--people apparently think they're ugly! Are you frickin' kidding me? Who cares? Uglier than the alternative? Surely not.

This article goes to great pains to bring up--three times--the issue of whether or not this and other offshore wind projects are actually visible from shore. Why? Because apparently most people's aesthetic sensibilities are totally divorced from any symbolic influence. I've said for several years now that I believe spent nuclear fuel should be held up as a beautiful beacon for a technology that doesn't force us to indiscriminately dump our energy byproducts into the air. Unfortunately, spent fuel it's actually much to look at. (Though it's not the glowing green stereotype from The Simpsons' credits. It looks exactly like fresh fuel!)

Quiet, graceful, and lithe, windmills really are beautiful, and they also symbolize responsible environmental stewardship. Why do we treat them like eyesores?

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