EDITORIAL: On Earth Day, celebrate fossil fuels in Colorado and beyond
We love Mother Earth and look forward to Earth Day, April 22.
These are exciting times for energy, as innovation improves the conversion of wind, solar and geothermal heat into power for our offices, homes and electric cars. Our lives improve as energy options increase.
On a day we celebrate the Earth, it is reasonable for people to also acknowledge the role fossil fuels play in helping maintain and even improve our planet's condition.
Fossil fuels continue providing most of our energy and will do so for generations to come. Without fossil fuels, we cannot build a single solar panel or wind turbine.
As explained in a column this week by former Boulder Mayor Paul Danish, who devised his community's famous green planning practices, fracking of oil and natural gas has emerged as the great new hope for a grid powered by solar and wind.
"The single biggest barrier to these technologies becoming the primary source of U.S. electric power is the absence of suitable batteries to store their output for times when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing - which is more than half the time," Danish wrote in Boulder Weekly.
A world shortage of lithium severely limits electron storage. Lithium is expensive to extract and refine. One new Tesla factory in Nevada anticipates consuming 17 percent of the world's lithium supply, which will mostly benefit owners of luxury electric cars.
Petrolithium promises to solve the problem. It is easily extracted from the wastewater generated by fracking. The process can produce in a day what standard lithium production delivers in 18 months. The byproduct is potable water.
Fossil fuels have given us the cleanest environment in human history.
"If you want to see what 'dirty' looks like, go to a country that is still living in 'natural,' pre-industrial times," writes Alex Epstein in the free-market energy blog Master Resource. "Try choking on the natural smoke of a natural open fire burning natural wood or animal dung - the kind of air pollution that has been almost eliminated by modern, centralized power plants. Try getting your water from a local brook that is naturally infested with the natural germs of all the local animals - the once-perennial threat that modern, fossil-fuel-powered water purification systems eliminate."
Or, look at photos of horse manure piles in the middle of urban streets before cars.
We cannot function without fossil fuels, let alone improve our environment and perfect the harnessing of sunshine and wind.
That may explain why the Denver-based Independence Institute has made national headlines by sponsoring an "Earth Day Fossil Fuels Art Contest."
The institute wants artistic expressions, "all media are accepted," that "showcase the awesomeness of fossil fuels."
On Earth Day, give thanks for the energy nature provides and humans tame.
"Fossil Fuels Art Contest" details: Entries due April 21. Mail to: Independence Institute, 727 E. 16th Ave., Denver, CO 80203. First place, $100 gasoline gift card. $75 cards for semifinalists. Winner and finalists receive admission to the institute's April 27 Founder's Night, where awards will be granted.