State’s energy ‘gold rush’ is not needed

New Hampshire should hold off on energy projects until it has a comprehensive policy

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “finite” as “having bounds, ends or limits.” The word “infinite,” of course, means the opposite. This isn’t news to anyone who is older than a grade-school child, and yet we are bombarded with propaganda from the corporate world and government that there is no limit to “growth” on our finite planet.

Obviously, there is a limited amount of oil, clean fresh water, metals, soil in which to grow our food, fish in the ocean and, well, every other resource you can think of in our finite world. So if we opt for infinite growth we will eventually, and sooner rather than later, run out of our ability to sustain human existence.

Once we destroy the Earth’s ability to renew itself, no number of clever solutions or magical scientific breakthroughs will help us.

Exhausting the environment that sustains human life is not a new phenomenon. Numerous societies have exhausted their resources by demanding too much of their local environment. Collapse and abandonment of all that they had built was the inevitable result. Our modern, worldwide, fossil fuel energy-driven, extractive economy is now rapidly depleting our collective natural inheritance and, with our powerful machinery and drive for profit, we are demanding more than Mother Earth can sustainably provide.

We are digging up vast areas by surface mining for minerals and fuel, cutting down the great tropical and boreal forests that store CO2 and replenish the oxygen that we and all other animal life must have, flooding vast areas to produce hydropower, pouring industrial wastes into our water supplies and atmosphere, while overfishing and polluting the oceans.

Sustainability is not, or should not be, a political issue. Real conservatives recognize the need to husband resources and live within their means. Real progressives understand that the present cannibalizing of nature can only lead to “death by a thousand cuts.”

These truths are relevant to the present gold rush by energy corporations to cover New Hampshire’s landscape with long-distance high-voltage power lines and wind farms on our mountains and ridge lines. Their planned projects are not needed by us or our neighbors, for there is already more than enough electrical energy in New England. These projects will needlessly contribute to the degradation of our environment. The bottom line of corporate builders will benefit while leaving us poorer, not just economically but aesthetically.

By ourselves, we cannot change the world, although we can set a good example by changing the way things are done in New Hampshire. In the process, we can create community- based, sustainable energy facilities, together with the companies and jobs to support a healthier, renewable environment for ourselves and our children.

To get this done, we must encourage our legislators to insist on a moratorium on any new industrial energy projects until such time as the Legislature has an opportunity to formulate and pass a comprehensive energy policy for our state.

There are a number of bills in the Legislature to get the ball rolling, but we must do our part by contacting our representatives in the House and Senate to let them know that we support efforts to build a sane, renewable future for New Hampshire.

Don’t wait, for these issues will be considered soon. Our voices can make a difference. Let’s make sure they are heard.

Peter Martin of Plymouth is a member of the No Northern Pass Coalition.

Categories: Opinion