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The Radical Middle

Kentucky Living�s energy coverage has been ridiculed, on the one hand, for swallowing the environmentalist agenda and, on the other hand, for downplaying the potential of renewable energy.

When criticism comes from both sides, sometimes it makes sense to figure you�re in the middle and that�s OK.

In this case, it�s not OK to just sit in the middle.

The most polarized positions in the energy and environment debate need to be challenged. Each side oversimplifies complex realities so much that their positions become inaccurate. The widespread, inflexible, and sometimes intolerant insistence on these flawed arguments gets in the way of the serious energy discussion this nation needs to have with itself.

Neither Kentucky Living nor Kentucky�s electric co-ops have a position on the causes of global warming. We feel that energy should be used wisely, and should be reliable and affordable.

If you read that paragraph as avoiding the global warming debate, you read correctly. And it�s time for this radically middle position to confront the errors of the more absolute arguments.

To those who say we need to replace coal with renewable energy: coal produces nearly all the electricity in Kentucky. It�s why our rates rank among the lowest in the country. Renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, is a lot more expensive, not always reliable 24 hours a day, and has an incredibly long way to go before it can provide a significant fraction of our energy.

To those who say global warming is an environmentalist hoax: nearly all scientists who have studied climate change conclude that greenhouse gas emissions from human industrial processes contribute to global warming. You can disagree with those scientists. But it is not accurate to claim there is serious scientific disagreement about the basics of global warming.

The nation is running out of electricity. Adding more will be expensive. Limiting greenhouse gas emissions will add to that expense. This country needs to decide how much it wants to pay for energy.

During the past two years, Kentucky Living has described the complex energy choices ahead. We�ll continue to show how there are solutions, but not easy ones. As citizens, voters, and neighbors, we need to be knowledgeable, thoughtful, innovative, and compassionate about this issue that has no quick or simple fix.

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