Talking to the Press
The day before the VECAN meeting about the renewables goal, John Gregg of the Valley News emailed me to ask if I would be willing to comment on whether the 90% goal was reasonable. He emailed that Jon Wolper was attending the conference and writing the article. I emailed back that of course I would be willing to comment. I have a great deal of respect for John Gregg, and I was very happy to be asked.
Actually, I didn't just say: "Yes, I'll comment." I wrote a long email to Gregg and Wolper about renewables.
The day after the meeting, on Sunday, the Jon Wolper article appeared in the Valley News: Vermont Energy Advocates at Fairlee Conference Eye 90 Percent by 2050 Goal. It includes a quote from my email. I think it is an excellent article.
The article starts:
Fairlee — For a group of about 300 energy officials and advocates brainstorming how to accomplish a certain state plan yesterday, adjectives reigned.
They said that Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan, which is meant to get the state to 90 percent renewable energy usage by 2050, was bold. It was huge. Audacious. Ambitious. Extraordinary.
The article ends with the following quote from me:
“No, it is not possible by 2050,” wrote Meredith Angwin, a physical chemist, in an email. ....
“It may never be possible," she said.
I think the Valley News article was clear-eyed about the challenges.
Talking to the Ethan Allen Institute
When I'm quoted in the press, I usually send a link to various people at the Ethan Allen Institute. The Institute is the parent organization for my Energy Education Project. Rob Roper, the new president of the Institute, emailed me after he received the link to the Valley News article. Roper said he thought that I had probably said more than "not possible...may never be possible." Did I give my reasons for "not possible" in the email I sent the reporters?
I assured him I had sent quite a lengthy email to the Valley News, with reasons and links and everything. I sent him a copy of the email.
In Roper's opinion, the incomplete quote in the article was used to portray me as a "negative Nellie." Roper has written a letter to the editor about my quote.
Talking to my Blog Readers
At this point, I will close the blog post with an edited version of the email that I sent to the Valley News.
- In terms of the Valley News, I know that reporters have space constraints, and I don't feel I was quoted badly.
- In terms of the Ethan Allen Institute, I understand Roper's point.
Here it is:
Hello Jon and John
Thank you for asking me for my opinion!
About 90% renewable energy...your substantive question...no, it is not possible by 2050. It may never BE possible, unless our "behavior modification" includes dropping our population to far less than it is now. You see, renewable energy is pretty land-intensive, and we just can't devote that sort of land area to it and keep any type of society as we have it now.
Note: the original meeting announcement said this about the keynote speaker:
Dr. Martenson will speak to why he believes a 90 percent renewable energy goal is now a necessity.
"Getting to 90 percent renewable by 2050 is critical. To get there, however, will require major behavior modification by governments, corporations and individuals.."
I encourage you to look at this free book on the web...Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air
You can download the book, or the synopsis, for free. My son-in-law, a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia, uses this book as one of the texts for his first-level energy course. MacKay is a professor at Cambridge and scientific advisor to UK on climate change. I am not recommending some off-the-wall book here.
Closer to home, you might want to interview Dr. Robert Hargraves, who has a recent self-published book on a type of new reactors (thorium reactors) which has gotten wonderful reviews by Nobel-prize winners. Hargraves lives in Hanover.
Hargraves recently spoke in China to a very good reception by some very important people
And he gave a recent seminar at Dartmouth
Here's his book
The important thing, from your point of view, is that the first half of the Hargraves book expands on MacKay's book. If renewables can supply what we need in the future, then we don't need thorium or any nuclear source, or really, any energy-dense source at all (coal, etc.) Except that...renewables can't do it for a modern society. Worth reading the book or watching the first part of the Dartmouth talk.
Well, this is long enough! I just hope it is helpful!