Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Renewable

After working in the environmental protection sector, I have become a little more cautious in regard to renewable energy. It isn't that I'm against it, but rather I think of the sort of mentality we all have as Americans, especially Californians, when it comes to locating things like mass production of solar panels and wind turbines for renewable energy. I think my thoughts and sentiments were captured perfectly with a conversation I had with a class mate up here. It went along the lines of me saying that I love hiking, and that I miss hiking in Los Angeles. Said classmate looked surprised at me, and was like, but the hiking is much greater because of all the pretty waterfalls and greenery. Don't even get me started, because clearly you Bay Area folks know nothing about Angeles National Forest, and nor can you even begin to appreciate a true desert mediterranean climate. Anyway, I digress.

The point is that I have come to appreciate the desert landscape more than most people ever would, and probably ever will. Our society dictates that we need renewable, clean and green energy, and where do we focus our efforts? Away from development and cities, mostly because the proposed projects are so enormous in size. Instead, we opt to relocate these green projects into the high desert. This article in the Los Angeles Times summarizes the issue that is at hand here. We sacrifice prestine land for the sake of renewable energy. We pretend to be green, like in San Francisco or Santa Monica, but the facilities we clamour for destroy a very sensitive, and beautiful environment.

Yes, there are contradictions in being green and sustainable. And no, I am not a NIMBY activist. The desert is home to wildlife, and to a rural lifestyle that is already being disrupted tremendously. In California, and like in many major environmental movements, we choose to protect places that hold some sort of panaromic scenic significant, something that is tangible and worth preserving for future generations. It has to evoke some sort of emotional state out of us, usually leaving an impression of some sort.

Of course, we could never consider constructing wind turbine engines out in the ocean, because, God forbid, it would ruin our coastal viewshed. Instead, let us dump these machines (because really, what else are they?) in the backyard of the Mojave desert. Let's forget, that our State's flower, the California Poppy, blooms wildly in the desert, in some of the most untouched, undeveloped, and breath takingly beautiful land, should be sacrificed for the use of metropolitan areas.

Have we learned nothing about Los Angeles and its water source, or the destruction of Hetch-Hetchy valley for San Franciscans? Or the Colorado River, that does not even drain to the ocean anymore?

And let build swarths of solar panels, in addition to the ones already constructed, again in the Mojave.

I'm tired of people not realizing their impacts on a regional basis. Get out of your bubble, and for once in your life, truly analyze the footprint you have created. The goods and services we all want will have a negative impact on our environment. Instead of doing more "infill" we opt to continue to destroy land, that may seem worthless to many of you, for the sake of our own greedy goals.

Just because it is the desert, doesn't mean it's wasteland.

3 comments:

Kim said...

Francesi. I'm so with you. Leave my desert alone!

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