A Confused Old Man’s Take on Going Green

I’m in that category fondly called the elderly, and I gotta say I’m kinda confused about this going green thing. I’ve lived for a little over 70 years, which means I’ve experienced a few things. When I’m told stuff that clearly contradicts my life experiences, I tend to ask questions (if I’m not taking a nap). Apparently, I haven’t taken enough naps lately, because I’ve heard some so-called facts about this going green thing that give me pause and raise serious questions. Going Green

I understand that mankind has done its best to destroy the Earth. Just ask the poor fishes in the deep blue polluted and overfished sea. Or the animals chased out of their habitats by voracious developers. Or the multitudes of poor extinct species (oops, I guess you can’t ask them anything). Now I’m told there’s global warming, and my Florida condo is gonna be underwater in a couple of months. The moral of this story, human beings are a mess, and something needs to be done. So, why can’t we do better? I honestly don’t have a clue. I do know that some of the current ideas fly in the face of my life experience. Going Green

The first thing that comes to mind? I read recently that the citizens of some European countries tried to go green for a while by last year’s definition of green. They apparently decided they didn’t enjoy freezing to death. So, they have decided that coal and nuclear power are safe and clean, and that’s currently the way they are planning to go green. During my lifetime, dirty, filthy coal has been blasted as a major source of air pollution. And nuclear? Anyone ever hear of Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? People in my generation decided that a human glowing in the dark was bad. But now coal and nuclear are clean and green? I guess I need more naps. Going Green

Then there’s the plan to depend entirely on solar and wind energy for future electricity. These appear to be clean energy sources, and one would hope this idea works in the long term. However, there are some confusing issues here as well. I recently saw federal government plans to create wind farms along the coastline of the entire United States. I’m thinking this might create havoc with the fishing, shipping, and recreational boating industries. I’ve also read that these giant wind-powered generators are not bird, whale, or dolphin friendly. For anyone familiar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it might just be “goodbye, and thanks for all the fish” time. Going Green

The other issue that I see with wind and solar is that the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun goes down at night. Therefore, these are not constant sources of power. To my knowledge, in my lifetime we have not yet developed an Energizer Bunny type battery large enough to store the electricity to run a tiny town, let alone Los Angeles or NYC. Also, it’s my understanding that the US electrical grid was built many, many moons ago, and many parts of the country already suffer brown outs during peak hot seasons. So, maybe we should deal with these issues before turning the gas off completely. Otherwise, we’re in for some really tough winters, summers, and well…I’m not anxious to go back to the stone age. The dinosaurs might decide to come back. Going Green

 Then there’s the latest federal government edict that we’re gonna go full-on EV by 2030. This has apparently been moved back from the original 2035 if I understand correctly. I’ve already written a couple of blog posts on this issue, so I won’t belabor this one. Except that I read a recent article in a car magazine that called this approach economic suicide for the US. Going Green

Apparently EVs cost ten to twenty thousand dollars more than gasoline-powered vehicles in the US today. Much of the middle class can’t afford this. More to the point, there are reported to be several Chinese auto manufactures that already have perfectly good EVs that they can sell for the price of a gas-powered car in the US. So, when we go total EV in 2030, be prepared to drive a Chinese vehicle, because they plan to swoop in and take over the industry. Going Green

My wife and I are already studying the Chinese language so we can read the car manual. Especially the parts about your home insurance going up when you store an EV in your garage. Not to mention the part about how to keep your EV from exploding or catching fire. I don’t honestly know if this is true or not, because I’m aware you can’t believe half of what you read (including here…). But it’s sure a scary thought. Going Green

I’ve also cleaned and oiled our bicycles. If we don’t improve the EV charging infrastructure, in addition to the electrical grid, before turning off gasoline sales, it’s a peddling I’m gonna be going. Not a good idea to quit your job before you have another one. Same for EVs, not a good idea to completely turn off the gas-powered cars before the EVs are functioning and dependable. Going Green

The most confusing green thing that I’ve heard lately came from a show on PBS the other night. It included a piece on how to make New York City green. Apparently, scientist from one of the Ivy League schools had done studies. Studies have shown that much of the air pollution leading to global warming in the city is due to smokestacks. Many of these are located on the top of residential and commercial buildings, where various polluting things are being burned to provide heat for the tenants. Going Green

They interviewed several scientists and one entrepreneur, who all agreed that the solution was to convert each and every building in NYC to heat pumps for their heating and cooling needs. (As an aside, I thought it interesting that this entrepreneur was doing was entrepreneuring (is that a word?) by growing a business in which his company sold and installed heat pumps, with large government subsidies of course. So, there’s that old follow-the-money thing.) Going Green

Over my seventy-plus years on this planet my wife and I have owned several different houses, mostly in Virginia, and all with heat pumps. My experience with said heat pumps kinda flies in the face of this plan for greening up the Big Apple. If I’m correct in my geography, NYC is in the north, where it gets cold in winter, as in below 32 degrees F. (freezing). With every heat pump I’ve ever had, once the temperature goes below freezing the auxiliary heat kicks in. This is essentially heating your house with a toaster, using massive amounts of electricity, and raising your electrical bill exponentially. Going Green

 Furthermore, on several occasions when the temperature dropped below freezing and some form of precipitation (snow, hail, freezing rain) fell, I found myself standing next to the outside heat pump compressor with my wife’s hair dryer. The unit had frozen into a solid block of ice. I had to brave the cold and possibility of being electrocuted in order to thaw the thing out so it would work. These units are supposed to have self-defrosting cycles, but they don’t always work in my experience. Going Green

Then there’s the issue of the freon. You know, that dreaded gas that leaks from air conditioners and heat pump compressors and pokes holes in the ozone layer. Each time we’ve had to replace our heat pump, we had to replace both inside and outside units. The reason? Because the previous iteration of freon had still been shown to pollute the air and destroy the ozone layer, so they came up with a new one. This new iteration of freon of course requires all new equipment inside and out. Going Green

So, I gotta ask, how is it a good idea to convert all the buildings in NYC to heat pumps? In my experience, they don’t work worth a damn below freezing, they freeze up, and they leak freon into the atmosphere. Perhaps science and technology has developed a new and better heat pump that does not come with these problems. I am not aware of this, but then I am not aware of most things. That happens when you take a lot of naps. The idea just flies in the face of my own personal life experience. Going Green

One aside related to heat pumps, more a comfort thing than a green thing. I always wondered why they call them heat pumps. The air that comes out of the vent when one of those things is set on heat is not even warm. The heat pump actually works by pumping heat from outside to inside to heat your house. That’s tough to do when it’s 9 degrees outside, and there isn’t any heat to speak of. We always had either a wood-burning or gas stove as backup to the heat pump, for those nights when we actually wanted to feel warm. Going Green

Fortunately, I’m old, and I live in Florida. So, I don’t have to worry about freezing to death. I don’t boat anymore because of an old neck injury. So, I don’t have to worry about fishing off the coast or crashing into any of those giant windmills. I can walk to most places like the doctor, grocery store, post office, etc. So, when my EV won’t run, I’ll just walk or take my bicycle. There’s plenty of sun in Florida, so maybe solar power has a chance here. And I’ll keep a canoe in my living room, just in case I wake up one morning and Florida is under water. I’m worn out from writing this article, so I’m gonna go take a nap. Have a green, sunny, windy day. Going Green

If you liked this article, you’ll also enjoy my comedy murder mysteries, the award-winning The Realtor’s Curse, Murder by Road Trip, and Pleasuria: Take as Directed. For links to buy these books, go to https://johnjjessop.com