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Finding Energy

March 31, 2011

By Jennifer Chaky

It seems that the universe is sending some pretty clear—albeit harsh—messages that the energy sources we have been relying on are not the way to go. I think there have been red flags for decades, but since we’ve failed to heed any of those warnings, the universe is actually screaming, “Look out or else!” Are we ready to listen?
Coal, oil, and nuclear power have all proved to be enormously deadly. Mountains have literally been flattened in Appalachia for coal, oil spewed for weeks into the Gulf of Mexico, tons of toxic chemicals are pumped into the ground in a process called fracking to find natural gas in New York and Pennsylvania among other places, and the Japanese people are being terrorized by radiation threats after two humongous natural disasters breached the nuclear power plant. So I ask: Why are we still clinging to these outdated, dangerous sources of energy?  Our government is still subsidizing coal, nuclear, gas, and oil and plans to drill, frack, and mine.

And another question begs to be answered: Why is the non-renewable energy industry going to such extremes to acquire fuel? It’s very hard and destructive to get coal from mountains, oil from deepwater wells, and gas from hard-to-find sources. Is it possible we have already accessed and used up the easier-to-reach supplies of these fuels?

In any case, the reasons for forging ahead—fast and strong—with renewable energy are many and cannot be ignored. The health of ecosystems, clean air and water, vulnerability to increasingly violent weather patterns, diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, and the inability to dispose of nuclear waste all are blaring red flags that we need change. True, renewable sources such as wind, tidal, and solar energy are not without their externalities. A ton of work, a whole lot of money, and a shift in consciousness to accept any shortcomings and difficulties of this transition will be necessary. But consider this: In the history of our country we have always been known as pioneers of change, fearlessly going into the unknown, guided by our ingenuity and know-how. Yes, exploring other options on a large scale will require a significant investment, but if we don’t spend the money now, we will need to spend much more picking up the pieces of the casualties of the polluting, deadly fossil fuel and nuclear power industries. Our country can really use something positive to focus on and get excited about right now. We need our leaders to unite us and lead us to the promise of a cleaner, healthier, safer, saner future. Unfortunately, because of special interests and small thinking, they don’t seem to be doing this on their own, so we need to demand it.

There is nothing better than tackling these issues when they land on our doorstep. Here are some ways to become aware of issues right here in the New Jersey area. Visit these sites, and get on their listservs, go to an informational meeting, support them with a donation, contact a local and state representative, volunteer to table at an event, put up a flyer, get signatures. There are many ways to add your voice to the call “We are ready!”

COALition, a local group of New Jersey citizens and environmental organizations formed to stop the building of an experimental coal power plant in Linden, NJ.

IPSEC, a coalition to close Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant just north of New York City.

Website to learn about fracking being done in New York, affecting water aquifers of the surrounding area.

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