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Progressive Energy vs. "Renewable" Energy

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#aepstein">Alex Epstein</a> -- April 27, 2012

“Renewable energy” has two fundamental conceptual flaws. It’s not really renewable, and it’s not really energy.

What is “Renewable”?

“Renewable” in most definitions approximates to something like “naturally replenished” and it often contrasted with allegedly inferior, “finite” sources. It brings to mind the image of a pizza where a slice, once eaten, magically reappears.

There is no such phenomenon in nature, though. Everything is finite. The sun and the photons and wind currents it generates are not infinite; they are just all part of a very large nuclear fusion reaction. True, that nuclear fusion reaction will last billions of years, but so will the staggering amounts of untapped energy stored in every atom of our “finite” planet.

To obsess about whether a given potential energy source will last hundreds of years or billions of years is to neglect the key issue that matters to human life here and now: whether it can actually provide the usable energy that will maximize the quantity and quality of human life.…