Apr 012008
Authors: Nick Hemenway

Since spring break, freshmen have been enjoying the new dining facilities in the Academic Village. But along with that new, how-much-of-our-money-did-you-waste smell, some students have noticed some unexpected changes that are less than ideal – the absence of food trays.

According to the university, the policy is intended to reduce water consumption by washing fewer dishes. The question is, are we looking out for the right kind of green?

These days you’re not cool unless some aspect of your life is certified “green” – or inefficient as we call it in the real world.

One year ago, CSU launched the Green Power Project. The plan calls for 100 percent of the energy used on campus to be produced by wind energy within eight years. Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside?

A little known fact about the Green Power Project is that is comes with a huge price tag.

In order for this to gain Al Gore-two-thumbs-up certification, CSU will pay $3 million more than the existing $12 million bill to pay for wind power.

There is a reason why wind farms soak up government subsides – they are rarely cost efficient.

This is not the best way to spend our money. With $3 million, we could make a noticeable difference in textbook costs, build a parking garage or even buy a new athletic director.

In third grade, our teachers pounded the mantra of reduce, re-use, recycle into our minds, showing us images of rainforests being burned to the ground, all because I put a Mountain Dew can in the trash.

While recycling is a good thing, efficiency should be our number one goal.

Did you know there is now a fuel that is 56 percent more efficient than corn-based ethanol? It’s called gasoline.

The only reason auto manufacturers are making “flex-fuel” vehicles is to capitalize on consumer’s blind craze for ethanol. There are very few differences between these flex-fuel cars and normal ones, mainly different fuel lines and component materials. In fact, most of our cars can already run on a limited gas and ethanol blend. It’s a dirty little secret we engineers like to keep to ourselves and one that has car companies laughing all the way to the bank.

There are, however, several promising leads into new renewable energy sources, such as hydrogen and hydraulics. But the free market should be the driving force in pursuing these goals, not my tax dollars.

At the same time, the people chanting green should wake up and smell the plutonium. Nuclear power is one of the best energy sources that are readily available today, and it is just as safe as anything else we have.

If CSU really wants to cut back on things like water use, I have a great idea. From now on, let’s ban clothing in the dorms. Millions of gallons of water are wasted in the laundry rooms, so I say we outlaw it.

Didn’t they see Al Gore’s sci-fi comedy “An Inconvenient Truth?” We are all going to die.

Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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