Tag Archive for 'alternative energy'

The heat wave and global warming

Global warming is not new - 10,000 years ago Ohio was buried under 5,000 feet of ice. But the debate about what is causing it is new - probably less than 50 years old.

We wanted to know what our audience thinks about what’s causing recent extreme weather patterns, so last week we asked this question: “This is a very warm and dry year for much of the U.S. Why do you think this is happening?” Here’s what you told us:

Only 7% of our respondents think, “It’s clearly climate change and humans are causing it.” Three times as many, 22%, said, “It’s climate change and humans are part of the problem.” The big group, 72%, allowed that, “It’s climate change, which was happening long before humans.”

For my part, the debate should not be whether the Earth is warming - evidence indicates that it is (see first sentence above). Nor should it be about whether humans are contributing to global warming - we probably are, but it obviously began long before we discovered how handy burning fossils could be (see first sentence above).

The debate should be how we accomplish two things: 1) Create and/or discover sustainable energy sources - preferably more than one; 2) Convert to these energy sources over a period of time long enough to prove their effectiveness and sustainability, while simultaneously giving the marketplace time - decades, not years - to make the conversion without wrecking the global economy.

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Nature emphasizes human insignificance

An earthquake is arguably the rudest of nature’s reminders of how insignificant we humans are. And even though we’re no longer shocked to hear about one happening somewhere else, still, it’s difficult to imagine how devastating a 9.0 earthquake can be. Even though footage of the associated tsunami, further emphasizing the awesome power of nature, may take our breath away, we’ve come to expect this one-two punch when the planet’s tectonic plates shift near an ocean.

But when nature performs the hat trick by unleashing its force under, around and over volatile man-made devices called nuclear power plants, as recently happened - and is still happening - in northeastern Japan, the needle of our disbelief meter pegs off the chart.

Here in the U.S., it was looking like the more than 30-year nuclear power plant construction moratorium, created by the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, was just about to end. Now what? Is this a sign from God, or just a disastrous coincidence.

Political and environmental interests seek desperately for non-carbon energy alternatives. But in the face of what’s still unfolding in Japan, what is the nuclear energy appetite of Americans? We wanted to know what you think about this, so we asked the following question last week in our weekly poll in the Newsletter and our website. “The Japanese disasters have put the potential risks of nuclear power in focus. Do you think we should continue to build more nuclear plants?” Here’s what you said:

Those who thought we should put things on hold at least until we see how things turn out in Japan represented 5% of our respondents. Surprisingly, only slightly more, 8%, said the Japanese disaster proves that nuclear energy is not worth the risks. But a resounding 88% of our sample said the U.S. should continue to develop nuclear energy, acknowledging that no energy alternative is without risks.

We continue to live the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” It will indeed be interesting to see how the alternative energy debate plays out over the next few of years. And while thinking about where you want to take your small business, remember what a wise person once said, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” And, as we’ve come to know too well, nature is a big part of life.

On The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with Andrew Sherman, partner at the global law firm, Jones Day and author of many books, including Be the Truck, Not the Squirrel, whether the events in Japan could have been predicted.

Japan and Middle East Black Swan events with Andrew Sherman

I also talked with Bob McTeer, Distinguished Fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis and former President/CEO of the Dallas Fed, about the global impact of the disasters in Japan.

Global repercussions from the Japanese disaster with Bob McTeer

Please click on the interviews and take a few minutes to listen to our discussions. We’re also interested in your comments, so please tell us what you think.

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