Renewable energy ignorance

Furrow 2

Ploughing farmland certainly uses energy and it speeds up oxidation of organic matter. However, direct drilling, or “zero-till”, can grow better crops when done right and reduces organic matter loss. Ground covered in green leaves removes CO2 and gives us back the O2.

There is something that really worries me about the talk about climate change and renewable energy; the lack of talk, probably a lack of understanding, about energy balance.  If renewables take more energy to manufacture, transport, commission, maintain and decommission, than the energy that comes out in the productive life, then what have we gained?  Maybe time. Maybe temporary lots of things but not sustainability.  Where is the common sense in all the discussion?

The National Geographic magazine, Nov 15 issue, was all about climate change and renewables.  As usual with this journal, the issue is pictorially stunning, well research and academically credible, and well written.  However, there was little, if any, discussion about energy balance, or pollution transfer (electric cars have to get their electricity from a power source which is likely to be a hydro-carbon generator somewhere else), or Oxygen return (when we burn fuel, including EfW, Energy from Waste, we produce Carbon dioxide and rarely do we have a discussion about the Oxygen which has been locked up and reduces what we have to breathe).

So far in the history of the world, it is only farming the green leaf which, on a global scale, can trap the energy in sunlight, reduce Carbon dioxide and give us the Oxygen back.  Why is farming not at the top of every discussion on climate change?

Bill Butterworth   27 December 2015