Save the Planet - or Else

February 13, 2016

Massachusetts has been having a vigorous debate about the costs and benefits of solar power. And reasonable people can differ about the actual dollar value of those costs and benefits.

But the fundamental flaw in all the claims the utilities and AIM have been making is based on the false assumption that fossil fuel generated electricity is equivalent to renewable energy generated electricity. And that just isn't true. 

Here are a few questions - inspired by Arnold - that point out the differences. 

First - Do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from burning fossil fuels? (over 4,700 die from burning fossil fuels every year in Massachusetts

That's more than murders, suicides, and car accidents - combined. (1,092 in Massachusetts) 

Every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from burning fossil fuels. (13 people in Massachusetts) 

Do you accept those deaths? 

Do you accept that children have to grow up breathing with inhalers? 

Do you accept the deaths from heart attacks, strokes and COPD caused by burning fossil fuels? 

Now, my second question: Do you believe fossil fuels will be the fuels of the future?

Besides the fact that fossil fuels destroy our hearts and lungs, everyone agrees that eventually they will run out. What's your plan then?

I, personally, want a plan to move to a clean energy future. I don't want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don't want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That's exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.

A clean energy future is a wise investment, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either wrong, or lying. Either way, I wouldn't take their investment advice.

Renewable energy is great for the economy. California has some of the most revolutionary environmental laws in the United States, we get 40% of our power from renewables, and we are 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the country. We were an early-adopter of a clean energy future.

Our economy has not suffered. In fact, our economy in California is growing faster than the U.S. economy. We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech.

Now, my third question: Do you believe we should protect utilities who are fighting the inevitable transition to a clean energy future to protect their profits? 

I have a final question, and it will take some imagination.

There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed dome. Inside there is a fossil fuel power plant providing electricity. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed dome. Inside there is a solar array providing electricity. Both are producing the exactly the same amount of electricity.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the dome and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the dome you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the power plant or the solar panels. You do not get a gas mask.

I'm guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the solar panels, right? Door number one is a fatal choice - who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

This is the choice we are making right now....

I hope that you'll join me in opening Door Number Two, to a smarter, cleaner, healthier, more profitable energy future.