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Sustainable energy: COCC employees weigh the pros and cons

Maintaining a low impact type of sustainable energy on the environment is a controversial issue, and for two college employees, it is an important part of the future.

Illustration by Noah Hughes | The Broadside
Illustration by Noah Hughes | The Broadside

 

Dan Cecchini, the head of Information and Technology Services at Central Oregon Community College, recently published a book called Spinning a Green Yarn: Another Inconvenient Truth. In the book, Cecchini addressed the impacts of one type of sustainable energy, wind, and its destruction of some types of birds and natural habitats.

As Cecchini looks at considering another type of energy in place of wind energy, solar or nuclear energy are two potential solutions. But solar energy might not have more benefits, according to Cecchini.

“It still takes up a lot of room,” Cecchini said. “It’s not very efficient, either.”

Replacing wind energy with nuclear plants might be a better option, according to Cecchini. If contained, nuclear energy can have less impact on the environment.

But that might cause more problems, according to Mick McCann, a COCC geography professor and previous Sustainability Club advisor.

“It certainly could be very clean. However, it doesn’t work in all places,” McCann said. “If you look at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, there’s a fairly high latitude, they have a high energy need, they didn’t want to burn the coal. Nuclear was a good solution, until there was a tsunami off the coast and then it was not a good solution.”

Nuclear energy can also be an issue for its length of duration in the environment, according to McCann.

“The problem is with the nuclear waste, what do you do with it?” McCann asked. “You have to contain it, seal it in concrete, and wait 10,000 years.”

As Cecchini’s efforts to bring awareness to the impacts of wind energy are growing, the next step is finding a solution.

“There’s actually a growing awareness of the impact that wind energy has on the environment, that it’s not just green,” Cecchini said. “It has a lot of issues just financially panning out as being a logical way to generate energy, but also there’s a lot of people that are looking at it from environmental impact.”

The ultimate solution may come in a number of ways, according to McCann.
“I think the strategy first of all is, we always look at trying to generate more to meet demand,” McCann said. “I think one of the best strategies no one talks about is reducing the demand by cutting waste. If there was a magic bullet, we would all be grabbing the same thing.”

 

Junnelle Hogen
The Broadside

jhogen@cocc.edu

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