First, a word of warning. It is not an easy task to turn your back on commercially produced power, even partially. Making a change will force you to examine some of your behaviors and may cause you to make life-changes. If you feel up to a challenge, then read on.
Let's get this out of the way right at the start. That is, our philosophy on alternative energy resources and how it ties to our philosophy of life.
Our philosophy on energy:
It is not one that results from thinking that impending disaster is looming just around the corner. No. However, there are major issues already on us, we just don't see or feel them. Yet.
Our philosophy on life:
The Power-Talk crew puts their focus for living in a totally spiritual viewpoint. There will be no "save the planet" war cry. You will not find us referencing the term "mother earth" as the earth is not a spiritual entity to be revered as it did not create us. We are sojourners on this terrestrial landscape and see a responsibility to not scorch the earth in the process with excessive living practices. Being a good steward of what we have been given is one of the right things to do. There are also economic factors in choosing to live a responsible consumer lifestyle by using alternative energy resources.
Does 'peaking oil supply' sound like a good thing? U.S. production of oil and natural gas peaked in the 1970's and global supply is projected to peak in the next decade. Not good. Click here to see a map showing the world supply of oil. You can also click here for a primer on peak oil. The peak oil theory suggests that global oil supply will peak, flatten out and then drop off, as it is not renewing itself. However, who knows what may be found in the way of oil and gas in unexplored areas. Living in Alaska, we are reminded daily of the challenges, politically and environmentally, of oil extraction. Gas and oil are there but not always accessible. I would have to add that even if Alaskan oil fields were totally exploited, I am not sure if it would make a long lasting dent in the face of rising demand.
There are two opposing sides to the peak oil theory just as there are with global warming. Plenty of folks just don't see it happening. There have been other calls of a severely depleted oil supply in the past, only to have dripping spigots opened again to a steady flow. Lining up with one side or the other may be as frustrating as with the global warming speculations and projections. Again, let us push this debate aside because in our opinion turning to alternative energy resources is ultimately better anyway.
The Power-Talk crew does not even consider coal as a fuel to use on a large scale. Not tomorrow, not today, we will not use it in any way! It has been in use it for a while but it is extremely dirty in several ways. The damage done by the extraction and the combustion by-products of coal are numerous. We will not analyze harmful effects of coal here because one does not have to look very hard to find information on the problems with coal.
Nuclear power also does not make the Power-Talk list of good things. I would not want to live next to a nuclear power plant or the waste disposal site. Likewise, I would not want one foisted upon our neighbors. Though they probably exist, I have never encountered anyone begging for anything nuclear in their back yard.
The result of turning to an alternative energy resource will decrease the carbon dioxide levels, anyway. That is why I do not feel compelled to dwell on what "may" happen. The volleys of opinion will simply burn even more fossil fuel as we light up our computers to fire away at each other. Lets just focus our time, energy and resources to doing things a better way, before we are forced. It is common sense to take care of small problems before they turn into big problems. Simple and effective.
These 'major issues already on us' that we refer to are more along lines of:
Something to consider but not the major issue today: Global Warming. The planet has warmed and cooled for centuries, sea levels rise and fall, ice shifts, hurricanes and droughts happen. we can not get excited about the projections of planetary disaster from my carbon footprint. That is because we are doing what we can to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and use alternative energy resources. True, carbon dioxide levels have risen with the use of carbon-based energy production and there probably are consequences. It is also true that not all scientists agree that we are utterly destroying the earth because we are throwing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I will push this discussion aside for another day because the focus of Power-Talk is not to debate global warming.
How about getting semi-independent from the 'big boys'? How about de-centralizing your energy source and taking on some responsibility for that important part of your life. If you think we are about shutting down gas and oil wells and padlocking all power plants, you may be disappointed. These things are deeply embedded in our current culture. They have just taken too large of a foothold and that can only be corrected by us as individuals. We are so dependent on the power company that, well, it's a little frightening.
In 1990, we bought a nice hillside spot on the out-skirts of Anchorage, AK. It seemed that we lived in the wilds of Alaska, the fringe of civilization. It was quiet and ruggedly beautiful, a place to escape the frantic city life at the end of the day. The problem with that idea quickly emerged. We were tied to one thing we could not escape, just like our suburban friends, the power cord. If the wind blew too hard or ice dropped a power line, we were just as out of lights, heat and refrigeration as anyone in town. The industrious people had generators but they typically stored only enough fuel for a minor outage.
This will get you thinking about the 'what ifs'. What if the power stopped for weeks, what if the natural gas flow shut down? Suddenly, what seems an insignificant part of life starts to appear as a looming giant that most of us comfortably ignore. What happens when you can't provide for yourself in times of minor crisis? That is a big question that shows our vulnerability to centralized power production. This is not a spooky, scary, gloomy thought we need to carry around. especially when the impact can be mitigated by our actions. We are simply pointing out some reasons to start looking into using alternative energy resources.