By Kathryn Jackson
Listen up Cougars, being true blue may mean going green.
Some might call it ignorance, while others might call it disregard. Humanities professor George Handley referred to it as the ?eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we will be resurrected? problem. Whatever you call it, neglect of the environment in Utah is polluting our air, endangering our children and warming our planet.
In last December?s clean energy panel discussion, sponsored by ?Cougars for Clean Power,? Handley and other professors spoke on the need for clean, renewable energy and misconceptions with environmentalism and the Latter-day Saint faith.
?There is a tendency to assume that we don?t need to worry about things like clean energy and recycling,? Handley said. ?But our beliefs in the Second Coming and the Millenium should actually inspire us to want to prepare for it by being good stewards of the earth.?
Hoping to promote environmental stewardship at BYU, the EcoResponse club is collaborating with Utah Clean Energy on a campus-wide clean energy effort called the ?Cougars for Clean Power? campaign. A similar student-led campaign was launched at the University of Utah three years ago. The campaign resulted in the approval of an additional $1 per student per semester fee earmarked for a cumulative wind power purchase. For less than the price of a pop, students at BYU?s rival university this year are able to invest in $64,000 of wind energy from a regional wind power provider.
This wind power purchase is replacing power that would normally come from the burning of fossil fuels. Current data from the US Environmental Protection Agency identifies fossil fuel generated electricity as the largest source of industrial air pollution in the United States and a major contributor to global warming.
In Utah, nearly 95 percent of our electricity is generated from burning coal. The continued burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, has many detrimental repercussions: decreased air quality, adverse public health effects, global warming, increased acid snow and rain, mercury contamination and depletion of our precious water resources.
Last November, local company Wasatch Wind set up wind anemometers outside of Spanish Fork Canyon to test wind viability. If a wind farm were set up, mid-afternoon canyon winds would enable one turbine to power 700 homes. Although Wasatch Wind?s research looks promising, it will take a major movement to really see winds of change to blow through Utah, which is why BYU should get involved.
Cougars for Clean Power campaign efforts will be ongoing throughout the semester and EcoResponse will be staffing booths to provide students and faculty with more information on their cause. Here are three reasons why BYU should support the use of clean energy:
1.) The environmental benefits of clean energy are unprecedented. In one year, one wind turbine saves our atmosphere from 22,994 lbs of smog-causing nitrous oxide, 8,361 lbs of acid-rain-creating sulfur dioxide, and 11,011,320 lbs of global-warming carbon dioxide.
2.) This isn?t merely an environmental issue, it?s an economical one too. Due to advanced wind farm technologies, the cost per kilowatt-hour of wind energy has become competitive with that of conventional power sources. Moreover, it is a fixed rate ? oil and natural gas prices are not fixed. Renewable energy development creates jobs, fosters economic development in rural communities, increases property tax revenue and expands the local tax base. In a state with so many rural counties, wind power has the potential to generate substantial economic growth opportunities.
3.) Renewable energy is ethical. As the only organisms on earth with the ability to reason, how is it not our ethical responsibility to in turn ensure the survival of all the organisms we rely on? Moreover, members of the church have a bigger ethical responsibility to promote wise-use of the environment.
A wind power investment at BYU would not only maintain our ethical reputation but it will guarantee a sustained earth for our children to enjoy. So be blue and go green?support renewable energy development in Utah. Oh, and while you?re at it, recycle this paper.