Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism

By Ozzie Zehner | Go to book overview
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1. Solar Cells and Other Fairy Tales

To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a
nail.—Mark Twain

Once upon a time, a pair of researchers led a group of study participants into a laboratory overlooking the ocean, gave them free unlimited coffee, and assigned them one simple task. The researchers spread out an assortment of magazine clippings and requested that participants assemble them into collages depicting what they thought of energy and its possible future.1 No cost-benefit analyses, no calculations, no research, just glue sticks and scissors. They went to work. Their resulting collages were telling—not for what they contained, but for what they didn’t.

They didn’t dwell on energy-efficient lighting, walkable communities, or suburban sprawl. They didn’t address population, consumption, or capitalism. They instead pasted together images of wind turbines, solar cells, biofuels, and electric cars. When they couldn’t find clippings, they asked to sketch. Dams, tidal and wave-power systems, even animal power. They eagerly cobbled together fantastic totems to a gleaming

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Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism
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