Tony Vagneur: ‘Environmentalists’ blinded by solar panels | AspenTimes.com

Tony Vagneur: ‘Environmentalists’ blinded by solar panels

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

If we don’t do much else around here, we compliment ourselves on being stewards of the natural environment, and if we don’t really know what we’re talking about, we definitely know that we like being outdoors.

We are constantly told what concerned environmentalists we are, but do we really have a positive impact on the environment? Oh sure, we’ve banned plastic bags, worry about plastic straws, encourage electric/hybrid cars, give scooters free parking and encourage bus ridership or carpooling.

Letters to the editor and a recent public meeting would indicate that the latest proposal to help save the environment is the building of a solar collector array adjacent to the W/J subdivision. The Aspen Times has written about it and Aspen Skiing Co. officer Auden Schendler guest-columned his opinion in this paper.

The Woody Creek Caucus and W/J Homeowners are (understandably) solidly against it, as well as the Brush Creek Village HOA. There doesn’t seem to be much support for such a radical idea, other than that coming from the developers and some man-made climate change proponents.

If you listen to advocates of the solar array, they present a scary, unpalatable scenario, to wit: For those of us who love the mountains and all that entails, including unparalleled views, it is time to put such selfishness away and allow for ugly, view-impeding additions to our energy grid, such as large-scale solar arrays and giant, wind-power “farms.”

Their argument is that protecting our atmosphere for the future of our children requires such anathema thinking. It is, if one considers the amount of land either requires, a partial devastation of our environment on a rather large scale. Interesting that we have environmentalists telling us it is desirable to corrupt our environment for the betterment of our future.

Right next door to the proposed solar array, Pitkin County is thinking about building a much larger airstrip and a new terminal. It might be that the larger jets that will be allowed into Sardy Field will emit more pollution per flight than the solar array will ever mitigate from the burning of fossil fuels. Build a bigger airport, they will come.

Climate change proponents like to talk about carbon dioxide and how carbon will be the destruction of the earth as we know it. Carbon dioxide is, in fact, a greenhouse gas, but of all the gasses in our atmosphere, it makes up less than .03% of those gasses. Some of the others that take up more space are nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and argon (.9%). And, of the greenhouse gasses, CO2 is in second place, coming in behind water vapor, which naturally increases with warmer temperatures.

Methane, currently in third place as a proliferative greenhouse gas will, as projected temperatures rise, increase significantly in lake sediment and freshwater wetlands, outpacing CO2 as the second-most prolific greenhouse gas. That should help put an end to the blaming of cow farts for our earthly warm-up.

All of this is, in case you were wondering, circular reasoning taking us back to the cause of climate change to begin with. No one can deny that currently the climate is getting warmer, but if we go back to rocks and sediment from the beginning of the Earth, 4 billion years ago, we see quite clearly that our home planet has experienced seriously fluctuating climate changes over the years. It’s been warmer, it’s been colder. Even before man entered the picture.

Briefly, this seems to put the lie to the idea of “man-made” climate change. We only have about 140 years of “modern,” questionably accurate records of weather and sea level changes behind us, as opposed to the scientific record contained in our earth’s surface. Maybe this is what people mean when they say we should trust science on this issue.

Additionally, few seem to mention nuclear power, either fission or fusion, which seems to be a glaring omission in the discussion of how to limit our reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels and protection of the environment. If you doubt its effectiveness, take a look at France.

In consideration of the above, it seems a little premature for us to sacrifice an important viewplane in the misled hope that we will somehow be a player in saving the planet from environmental destruction. Solar power works when the sun shines, and its low-energy density can’t be stored.

And lastly, may I mention that solar array proponents have been liberally quoted as saying that wildlife will only be “minimally” affected by placement of the array. Come on, people, through years of consistent and unyielding “minimal” disruption, we run the risk once again of extirpating our valuable deer and elk herds from this area. Maybe we should be concerned about saving the planet for everything, not just ourselves.

“The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” — Edmund Burke from “Great Ideas of Western Man”

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at ajv@sopris.net.


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