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Monday's Quick Hits: More on energy, the arrival of fall, Bucs football

The "comment of the week" was on my Sunday column about burning biomass — basically any kind of woody material — for energy. It came from "efoote1407," who is fed up with objections to every form of energy — solar and wind are too expensive and intermittent, coal and biomass too dirty and nuclear too dangerous.

"I kind of like having electricity. We might not always have it if we continue to listen to naysayers."

Certainly understandable. But we have to decide which new forms of energy are worth encouraging and which ones aren't, and I don't see a lot of reasons to grant millions of dollars in federal tax breaks for a form of energy that in some ways is dirtier than coal.

It should go to truly renewable sources, such as wind and solar. And, for my part, I'm a little fed up with hearing about the failure of Solyndra, a solar power company that received generous federal subsidies, when the real story is the dramatic advancements in solar cell efficiency and productivity.

The rap on wind and solar is that they are the favorites of tree huggers and academics, not business people making decisions in a competitive market.

Yes, they remain more expensive per amount of energy generated than fossil fuels. But solar, especially, is exactly the kind of energy that deserves subsidizing, one that could be very competitive, not to mention very clean, with a little more time, money and research.

Germany apparently believes so. It's hard to imagine a country that manages its economy more efficiently, and it's invested billions in solar power and has emerged as a world leader in renewable energy production: tinyurl.com/chqo6vt.

Most of this comes from wind. Biomass is second, but solar is a close third and is the fastest-growing renewable energy source in Germany.

•••

Speaking of energy, here's a long, troubling vision of the huge volume of the stuff that will be consumed as cities in the tropics not only grow, but grow in prosperity, so that larger and larger portions of the population will expect the same level of warm-weather comfort as Americans: tinyurl.com/9pqm24d.

And here is my latest observation about how absurd this level of comfort is. My somewhat entitled younger son, lounging on the couch in front of the Buccaneers game Sunday, spent most of each commercial break fanning himself like a wilting Southern belle and complaining about our thermostat management:

"It's always so hot in here."

My wife and I pointed out that the inside temperature of our home was a reasonable 76 degrees and that he might feel more comfortable on a muggy September afternoon if he'd chosen to wear something other than thick, fluffy sweatpants.

•••

About that Bucs game. Bummer about the loss. But after all those hours spent watching what I call Bucs Ball — the uninspiring offense, the tough defense (except for last year) the endless string of games that ended 14-10 or 17-7 — wasn't it kind of cool to see them in something that could actually be called a shoot-out?

•••

And about that muggy September afternoon. It seemed just a little less muggy than the last few months, and I found on Sunday that I could actually work in the yard for more than an hour without seeing stars.

For confirmation, we saw the harbinger of seasonal change in this part of Florida: love bugs.

People hate 'em. When they mean the end of the summer, I love 'em.

•••

If you didn't read my co-worker Barbara Behrendt's story on Sunday about the county's Mediciad payments to Brooksville Regional and Spring Hill Regional hospitals, read it now: tinyurl.com/9ac3zyg

I'm aware this is a complicated issue, but I was glad to see new County Administrator Len Sossamon call it what it is — a subsidy.

Of all the businesses that you'd think could get along without the help of a county that can barely keep its parks and libraries open, you'd think it would be the only one that charges its customers the way defense contractors charge the government.

Monday's Quick Hits: More on energy, the arrival of fall, Bucs football 09/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 11:44am]
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