We’ve come to understand that almost everything exists on a spectrum. Very few things are truly black and white, good or bad. It’s certainly the case when it comes to green energy sources and strategies to reduce our carbon footprint.
We tend to hold up power sources like electricity, solar energy, and wind energy as saviors and side-eye other forms, but is this really based in fact? When it comes to our impact on the environment, does it really come down to “Electricity good, gas bad?”
No energy source is one-size-fits-all, and we wouldn’t benefit from going all-in on some and eliminating others. Banning fossil fuels is a buzzy topic, but what would that actually look like? With increased use, the drawbacks of our other energy sources would be magnified.
The materials used in both wind turbine blades and solar panels have a shelf-life, so they have to be replaced at some point. And at the moment, the materials they’re made from are tough to recycle, meaning these large items end up filling landfills.
The batteries that power electric energy are made of materials like cobalt and lithium that cause harm to the land and habitats during the mining process. Water power plants cause environmental problems as well, with the diversion of rivers causing issues for natural ecosystems. Electricity is generated by, largely, coal and natural gas.
Looking at our energy’s whole picture and lifespan often reveals very real environmental pitfalls that aren’t immediately obvious.
There are wonderful and helpful uses for all of these sources. But just like everything in nature, just like people, they’re multifaceted. We have to find ways for the good to outweigh the bad! That’s why a diverse energy strategy makes sense, a mix, using each source in a way that amplifies its strength and negates its weaknesses to the best of our ability.
Like the others, propane isn’t an immaculate energy either, but also, like others, it has major strengths. Among other uses, propane is used in fleet vehicles like buses and delivery trucks. Preferable because of their lower emissions than gasoline or diesel, both Acadia National Park of Maine and the Mammoth Cave System in Kentucky have elected to utilize propane-powered buses to transport visitors to different locations rather than have cars their accompanying emissions.
Georgia State University did a study in which they found that school bus drivers who operated propane-powered buses rather than diesel reported fewer headaches. Children riding those buses were reported by their teachers as being calmer.
For this reason, among others, propane has a crucial spot of importance in a mixed-energy plan — and people are taking notice and implementing change. The official car for the Tokyo Olympic Games will be propane paired with electricity!
When we work together, we can do great things. The same is true for the multiple clean energy sources that power our lives.