Press-Republican

Columns

July 1, 2012

The answer is blowing in the wind

As the United States slowly begins moving forward and diversifying its energy production away from heavy reliance on both imported and domestic fossil fuels, these words come to mind:

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and others sang this song in the 1960s at a time when our country faced dissent and critical choices, just as we do now.

The combustion by-product from all fossil fuels, as well as biomass, is carbon dioxide. For well over a century, its physical greenhouse gas properties have been known and demonstrated, and is a major contributor to climate change.

Efforts to reduce the emissions of this gas are beginning, and the momentum is picking up.

The map of the United States illustrates just five different sources of power used to generate electricity. A significant amount of hydropower (dams) is shown in the Northwest; areas of large photovoltaic installations are shown in the Southwest; major wind-power farms are shown in the middle portion of the country; coal plants are situated throughout the United States, with a large concentration in the Southeast; and finally, nuclear installations in the North-central and Northeast portions of our country.

In fact, some of all five kinds of electric generation, and others, can be found throughout the United States, but this idealized map gives a general sense where they are concentrated.

Let’s look at the pie chart from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This gives the percent of electricity generated by the different technologies available in 2010. Note that the top three sources — coal, natural gas and nuclear — provide about 89 percent of our needs. This is followed by seven more ways we generate the electricity to power our lifestyles today.

From a climate-change point of view, the top two sources (coal and natural gas), providing almost 70 percent of our electricity needs, come from fossil fuels and are major sources of our GHG emissions.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time