Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Josh Fox's Tech-fix Fixation

Josh Fox has recently been making splashes as his new film Gasland Part II gets set to hit HBO this summer. One placed he showed up was on the Daily Dish, where he answers a question about whether fracking and natural gas are lesser evils compared with coal.

It's about a five-minute video and worth a look. I think he gives a very thoughtful answer about coal and natural gas as pretty comparable in terms of negative impacts. I also agree that we need to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels. Yes, they are 'toxic fuels.' 

I have a hard time, though, swallowing his technological optimism. Coal vs. Gas is a false dilemma, he says, because we have Wind! So what do we need to do about the quiet crisis we face? We DON'T need to change our ways. Consume less. Reinvent local economies. Redesign cities. Reduce our needs. No, we just need to switch to renewables!

My first reaction was: I don't buy it. Wind and solar simply cannot provide the baseload for electricity generation that we 'need' (if we go along with him and hold our needs unimpeachable). And that says nothing about the transportation sector....solar and wind cars, airplanes?! Not even on the horizon.

To me, this is the folly of the tech-fix fixation of many mainstream greens.

BUT...maybe I am wrong. In researching this post, I discovered lots about the 'baseload fallacy'. There are some intriguing sites out there making the case that renewables could supply our electricity needs on a large scale if we just made some adjustments to the grid. Interestingly, Texas stands out as an example of this, as it can accomodate 24% of its load (at times) with wind power.

So...am I too quick to write off the technological solutionism here?

1 comment:

  1. Low-tech solution.
    Everyone ride bicycles.
    The always present urge to become more technological has roots in never being satisfied with what we know to be good in the here and now. We dream of a technology that will give us a new kind of good. It's a farce, though. Riding bicycles is proven good for health and the environment. We should stick with this, it's the golden ticket.

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