Five and Change: Green


Today is November 12, 2008, and this is Five and Change. Sorry I couldn’t get a show out on Monday – turns out there was a lot more to do Monday than I thought, and Podcasting simply didn’t end up on the docket. I may prerecord Monday’s show on Sundays if this becomes an issue.

Today I want to talk about Green. The Green movement has been gaining traction over the past few years, for a variety of reasons. One of the largest, in my opinion, was the gradual increase in the price of gasoline. In 2001, gasoline had an average price of $1.25 per gallon. It has been argued that this price was artificially low because of government subsidies, and many other reasons.

Since 2001, we’ve seen gas prices rise steadily, until they finally broke $4.00 per gallon in 2008. Very recently – just the past three weeks, really, the price has dropped back down below $2.00. Most economic experts – and I use that term loosely – have stated that the global economic meltdown has resulted in the price fall, as cash strapped consumers reduce consumption, and speculators have left the market.

I don’t doubt that it will go back up. Over time, the markets will recover, speculators will reenter the market, and OPEC will reduce supply to raise prices. But what high oil prices have shown this generation is that something needs to happen now. We need cheap energy.

The Green movement concentrates on conservation, recycling, and sustainable energy. I don’t use the term “Renewable” here, because to me, that doesn’t quite fit. Oil is renewable, as, overtime, several natural processes create it. I use the word “sustainable” because there is energy all around us that can be harnessed. It’s not renewable; no source or stock is being resupplied for us to draw from.

These sustainable forms of energy are wind, solar, and geothermal. Wind and Solar are both driven by the sun – wind indirectly, and solar directly. The sun is not a renewable resource, but it is a sustainable resource for at least the next few billion years. Geothermal is actually caused by the Earth’s gravity compressing the surface and core, which isn’t going anywhere anytime soon either.

These energy sources are the future of our energy needs, for electricity and heating. Oil and coal are likely to be considered too dirty to continue investment in, especially in the light of a presidential administration that is likely to support Carbon taxes.

I want to also mention a project I’ve been a part of these past few years: the West Michigan Coop. It is an online farmer’s market, available at Although the goal of the co-op is not specifically environmental, many of the farming practices we support are in line with Green ideals. The co-op’s main focus is local food – something which promotes conservation through reduced transportation costs. I encourage you to have a look.

The clip I have today comes from Ira Flatow’s Science Friday, broadcast on NPR on November 7th. The guest is Craig Taylor, professor of Physics at the Colorado School of Mines, and Associate Director of the Colorado Energy Research Institute. They talk about the new Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

So I leave you with this snippet. This has been Five and Change, I’m Paul DeLeeuw, and I’ll see you on Friday.

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