By Paul Quigg, columnist
Thank you, Page County Planning Commission, for your unanimous recommendation for rejecting the Cape Solar facility. A special thanks must go to Cathy Grech for her many months of research and her analytical, reasoned, beautifully organized presentation of facts relating to a new solar ordinance and her concerns with the new Cape Solar Facility. Also, thanks to Beth Snider for her extensive solar research.
Let us hope that this more than four year journey into solar hell may soon come to an end with a rejection by the Page County Board of Supervisors.
In the study of climate, there are only two statistics we can have confidence in. The global concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air and the air temperature are the only statistics not subject to abuse.
The concentration of carbon dioxide is recorded on the summit of Mauna Loa (11,400 ft) in Hawaii. A graph from the U.S. Department of Energy, shows the relentless growth of carbon dioxide concentrations since the late 1950’s, which shows extraordinary consistency. The yearly oscillations are the result of seasonal changes.
The temperature is recorded in millions of locations on land and sea, with a steady rise since 1910, except for a small dip between 1945 and 1983.
Carbon dioxide emissions are impossible to measure accurately due to the trillions of emitters and their varying emissions. Every smokestack, every tailpipe, and every tree plays a part in the measurement, therefore the extent of emissions growth is grossly abused with little or no oversight. Methane and other greenhouse gases face the same problem.
The obvious question is why have the concentrations continued their exponential rise in the face of all of the global efforts to reduce them? The answer to this question is very complicated, but basically it is because our efforts to date are doing as much harm as they are good.
The two renewables we mostly talk about are wind and solar and they are producing a whopping 4.5 percent of total energy consumption — 1.3 percent from solar and 3.2 percent from wind. We aren’t pushing hydro and we aren’t pushing biomass, so wind and solar have got to get us up to 50 percent of renewable energy by 2050.
Wind and solar started showing up in consumption statistics in 1990 and after 32 years we are at 4.5 percent, with 45.5 percent to go in the next 28 years. Going from 4 percent to 50 percent in 28 years is not going to happen. The mining, production and assembly of the exotic materials into solar panels and wind turbines would take 28 years to get up and running and start producing.
I am not trying to be pessimistic, I’m trying to be realistic.
Mr. Quigg, a University of Virginia graduate and resident of Luray, has practiced architecture in the Mid-Atlantic region since 1962. As a lifelong environmentalist, in the 70’s he was appalled at the polluted air and water and has dedicated much of his time since in studying and commenting on the environment. He has been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications.