Rats eating your car? Don’t laugh, it could happen to you, but the road to sensible renewables is still worth it
In the push to go “renewable”, mainstream media has tunnel vision for only the big two – wind and solar. Occasionally, some industrious reporter will make it as far as, say, the Energy Information Agency website and discover that hydroelectric power is the largest renewable energy source, but that isn’t as sexy as wind and solar, and it is dubiously called renewable anyway – when thousands of square miles have to be flooded to create a hydroelectric dam, this source certainly stretches the boundaries of what is renewable.
One unfortunate side effect of this fixation is that there is a whole world of truly “renewable” options out there that get zero coverage. This is very bad indeed, because there are endless possibilities to save energy and resources, both of which are actually better for the environment than simply building more solar farms. Wind and solar are amazing energy sources of course, but only those that have gone a long way to constructing them seem to realize some of the problems – that they generate vast amounts of electricity when not needed, and that electricity can’t be stored, so the grid needs fossil-fuel power plants anyway.
A different form of renewables, for example, is to use plant-based products in place of non-renewable materials in construction. Some car parts have been made of various forms of plant matter, and in one very clever move, manufacturers began coating electrical wires in a soy-based product rather than fossil-fuel based. These are the sort of ingenious ideas that represent real environmental progress.
Oh, but look who shows up when that happens – the media. Why? Because rodents have also noticed the organic nature of these new wiring harnesses, and are eating them. Fortunately the rats don’t eat the fenders and tires and such obvious things, or the media would have a field day. On the other hand, one of the solutions available is to wrap the wires in spicy tape that is infused with capsaicin, which sounds like a good idea, except that as many humans know, spicy is better, and after one is accustomed to spicy food it’s hard to go back. If sales of this tape skyrocket, we may simply be creating waves of open-minded and more culinarily-adventurous rats.
Now, back to the media. Would anyone have known that wiring harnesses were made of soy-based material if rats hadn’t started eating them? No, soy-based anything doesn’t make the news, and if it does it’s as a joke, like tofu jokes. Which is an absolute crying shame, from an environmental perspective above all.
Imagine if all wire coating was made from soy-based products, how much that would do to help clean up the environment alone. Of course, there’s the rat problem, but hmmm….add some poison and we’d be killing two birds with one stone.
And not just wire coating, but anything else along those lines. The world’s oil demand could be meaningfully reduced by converting industrial products, which would be far more effective than trying to convince the world to buy electrical vehicles instead of SUVs (which isn’t working).
It would be hugely helpful if we rethought the term “renewable”. It is the key to changing our energy future far more than the addition of more ill-conceived wind or solar projects, producing too much power at the wrong times and stressing the power grid. It may not be as sexy, but hey rats eating cars is, you have to admit, far more interesting.