Earth Matters Around the Web : Trouble in Paradise

Reading through the eco-news this week I came across two articles that had similar themes. The first article is titled “Solar Customers in Hawaii get Burned” and details how people switching to solar power in the island state are struggling. Apparently, while it seems to make the most sense that Hawaiians would take advantage of one of their most abundant resources, the islands presently lack the infrastructure to accommodate it. According to the article, the inability to regulate the amount of electricity that solar power generates poses a threat to Hawaii’s grids. What happens then is that people switching to solar power end up with solar panels they are paying for but cannot use (until the infrastructure is put in place) and have to continue paying for their electricity bills as well. The second article is titled “A Struggle to Balance Wind Energy with Wildlife”. This article details the current trouble in the United States with wind energy, for while the massive turbines harness a renewable energy source, they also stand in the path of many species of migratory boards. Numerous birds have apparently been killed by the turbines, including species of eagles that were taken off the endangered species list only a few years ago. 

The problem that is illustrated by both of these articles is that while human beings have finally started to realize that finding renewable sources of energy is essential and imperative, the technology is still in its infancy. Indeed, while we are now grasping at the technology that will hopefully spare our environment, we are still far from perfecting it or predicting it. Integrating these new technologies into our lives is not going to be effortless and neither is it going to happen overnight.

The problems we are having with adapting these technologies to our lives also demonstrate a lack of foresight, a seemingly fundamental human flaw. We would not be in a scramble for new energy technologies if we had not so poorly anticipated the side effects and hazards of the old ones, namely fossil fuels. For that matter, we also turned, and many of us continue to turn, a blind eye to the side effects and hazards of our current energy technologies when we became aware of their side affects and hazards. So, while the development of new energy technologies does demonstrate some collective learning, its slow realization and its faulty employment reveals that we are still prone to the same kind of mistakes we have always made. So while we totter towards answers to our biggest environmental problems, let us not forget that there are some fundamentally human problems that also need attention,


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