In March 2011 I first became concerned about the rampant unconventional drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas taking place in Pennsylvania and other states. Now, almost two and a half years later, my concerns are even greater than they were initially. The unfortunate fact is that my knowledge of alternative fuel sources and how to practically implement them in my personal life is still woefully behind my rate of concern. I am hoping that my experience at the Fossil-free Energy Fair will help to improve that ratio and bring me at least a few steps closer to a sustainable energy future and away from energy sources which, at least in their extraction methods, are becoming more toxic than ever.
I do not buy into the belief that, just because one has not made a total transition away from fossil fuels and petrochemical products, one is a hypocrite and does not have the right to criticize the toxic practices of the oil and gas industry. We have created a world largely dependent on said industry; to wean ourselves away from it takes time. If we do not speak out against this increasingly toxic industry, the transition process will take even longer. The gas industry touts natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to renewables. In the same breath, it speaks of 100 years worth of natural gas reserves in shale deposits to combat fears of a “boom-bust” cycle. Climate science tells us that we don't have 100 years to “build a bridge.” The time to speak out against the oil and gas stranglehold on U.S. and global energy policy and to implement the transition to renewables is NOW...
… including at my house... My wife and I are not wealthy. How much money will it take to at least begin this journey of weaning our house away from natural gas heating? How much help is available from a federal government that recently has made strong statements about climate change? These are questions I need answered. We as a nation need to take steps toward making wind and solar as affordable and convenient for domestic heating as gas is now. If cloud-filled Germany can make major investments in solar power and find it a viable energy source, cloud-filled Pennsylvania can do the same. We have been sold a “bill of limitations” by the oil and gas industry with regard to the viability of wind and solar; I am hoping that the energy fair helps to put a huge dent in that public perception.
So if, like me, you are concerned about the effects of fossil fuel use on climate change and the increasingly toxic nature of natural gas extraction, please join me at the Fossil-free Energy Fair and learn more about the alternatives. I'm sure that a lot of “old hands” at alternative energy will be in attendance. But even taking “baby steps” toward a sustainable energy future is better than standing pat with our fossilized energy past.