MAIL: Clean Energy Bias?

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Dams can have a negative impact on fish
Dams can have a negative impact on fish
Wind Turbines can have a negative effect on birds
Wind Turbines can have a negative effect on birds
Dams can have a negative impact on fish
Wind Turbines can have a negative effect on birds

In “How Clean Is Your Electricity?” (HP152), Andy Kerr gives several sources of electrical generation negative nicknames. He uses the terms “miner-killing and mountaintop-removing coal; aquifer-polluting and fracked ‘natural’ gas; radiation-producing nuclear; war-causing oil; or fish-killing dams,” but he describes wind power as “wind power.” He does state that wind power “can be bad for birds if poorly sited.” I suppose it can be bad for birds, since it can kill them. Most people consider death very bad. Why the bias? Why not describe wind power as bird-killing wind power or describe dams as merely dams that can be bad for fish if poorly sited?

This appears to be just another example of promoting your political agenda. I know that my solar panels were not manufactured with 100% renewable energy. I do not know which of the dirty energy sources the manufacturer used, but it was one of the ones listed. I know the solar panels were transported by diesel trucks using “war-causing oil.” I suspect they were stored in a warehouse receiving electricity from “miner-killing and mountaintop-removing coal.” I know the installer receives his electricity in part from “radiation-producing nuclear,” so should I call my solar panels “war-causing, miner-killing, mountaintop-removing, and radiation-producing solar panels”? I would be justified, since my solar panels have embodied energy that comes from all of those sources.

I do not believe that the article used the best approach. I believe we should leave negative nicknames out of any discussions, especially when you treat “fish-killing dams” differently than “bird-killing wind power.” Describe the positive and negative attributes of both sources of electricity and convince me that dams are worse than wind power through the strength of your arguments. Although this article did not talk about politics specifically, the bias did bring back memories of past issues. I canceled my subscription to Home Power once, because I was tired of the political agenda being pushed. I returned several years ago because it appeared to me the rhetoric was toned down and Home Power is far and away the best source of information on renewable energy. You have an excellent informational magazine. My wife teaches high school English and journalism. Two of her friends are school librarians. I would love to donate my old magazines to the school library and to my wife’s classes so she could use them in her classroom, but I do not want to expose young people to a political agenda that I oppose.

I believe that there are a lot of conservative people in America like me. I care about renewable energy and the environment, but it is not anywhere near the top of my voting priorities. I have changed the way I use energy and I talk to my friends about the value of energy conservation and renewable energy, but I do not talk to them about your magazine and that makes it more difficult to educate them. If you want to change society, do it with persuasion, not force. If you can’t persuade enough people you are right, then any political victories will be quickly reversed. Win the battle of renewable energy one household at a time. It might take longer, but each victory will last because it will be voluntary. I do not know how many people you win over because of the political leanings of your magazine and how many you lose, but there are hundreds of young people each year that could be exposed in a positive manner to your magazine and I am sorry they are not.

Joey Dobbins • via email

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that some of the wording choices in the article you mention could have been toned down.

Home Power’s editors, authors, and readers have very diverse viewpoints and we strive to present objective, technical information in a way that will be well-received by all of our readers. Your points are a compelling reminder of the need to do so.

Joe SchwartzHome Power executive editor & CEO

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