The American perspective on wind and solar power
The United States is a society grounded in individualism and independence, with a strong suspicion of state intervention and – when compared to many other countries – a notable lack of civic cooperation. But it is civic cooperation, political will and government action that is needed to achieve important environmental goals such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and getting off of fossil fuels. It’s all very well and helpful if a few people paint their roofs white, eat organic food and drive hybrid SUVs, but these are mainly just symbolic actions; token drops in the bucket when compared to the implementation of real policies specifically designed to combat pollution and climate change.
The U.S. has used solar power on some level for many years. A recent study claims that 10% of power in the U.S. could be solar by the year 2025. As of last year, America is now the biggest wind power producer in the world. So why are these clean, sustainable and renewable forms of energy still considered by many Americans to be impractical?
It is partly because the burden of change lies on the individual. This is much more the case in the U.S. than in most of Europe, for example. The private sphere, rather than the public, has far more control of how the country’s resources are used, which can make a switch to clean energy sources an expensive and unrealistic option for many individuals and families. For a family simply struggling to pay their monthly energy bills, installing expensive solar panels or a wind turbine just isn’t a viable choice.
Here are two short videos from Time magazine that briefly explain the situation concerning wind and solar power in the United States of America (the second video can only be watched via a link to the Time website).
By Graham Land
Academic paper – ‘Civic Cooperation, Pro-Environment Attitudes, and Individual Behavior’