Evolving from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources

To the editor:

In his Jan. 7 letter to the Editor, David Wimberly falls back on the argument that anyone who still relies on fossil fuels is a hyprocrite for wanting to evolve away from them. He writes: "You are also a hypocrite, heating with gas, taking your share while blocking others, selfishly. If you truly believe the message on your yard sign, turn off the heat, cut the power and let the sun shine in your windows for heat and light."

As an analogy, let's return to the early 20th century. Almost overnight, the horse-and-buggy industry and its entire infrastructure is on the verge of collapse with the invention, then mass production, of the automobile. Mr. Wimberly is pushing back against the idea. His neighbor, though, welcomes the new invention.

One fine spring day, Mr. Wimberly is rocking on the front porch of his house and watching as his neighbor mounts up one last time, for a ride to the dealership to trade in one horsepower for 22. Wimberly shouts to his neighbor in passing: "You hypocrite! You're depending upon your horse to get to the car."

Yes, he has to depend upon his horse one last time to get to the car. And NASA still uses good old fashion combustion to escape Earth's gravitational pull so it can deliver a payload of supplies to the International Space Station that is powered entirely by the sun. And someday, soon, even that 44 million horsepower booster will become an historical curiosity.


We will, for a time, continue to rely on combustion-based manufacturing in order to produce the solar panels and other renewable technologies that will eventually replace combustion-based manufacturing and energy generation. How quickly that happens is up to all of us. We call this "transition" Mr. Wimberly, and it is inevitable. It's part of the evolutionary thrust that propels us forward.

Jeffrey Reel, Sheffield