~ Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu observed recently that the choice between cleaner technology and older, dirtier technology has been made before:
...a century ago, automobiles replaced horses and horse-drawn carriages within the space of about 25 years. “It was accelerated by the fact that there was an environmental imperative,” he said.But it can take a while for things to become sufficiently noxious, and times are different now in two key respects.
What kind of imperative? Well, New York City alone had about 160,000 horses hauling people and goods around at that time. “There was a very visible environmental impact that was piling up on corners all over the place,” Dr. Chu said. “So it hastened the shift remarkably.”
- We're not stepping in it. Industry today has the advantage that it can hide its piles in isolated rural areas, underground, in the ocean, or invisibly in the atmosphere.
- We're not hands-off. A hundred years ago, government didn't subsidize the raising of horse feed with oat planting depreciation, intangible plowing costs, or carrot research credits.
Yes, shift happens. Eventually.