By Donny Davis
Offshore wind is coming and the question is whether or not we decide to be a leader or be left out. History has shown that we did not invest in the future by anticipating emerging industries, therefore we only marginally enjoyed the benefits of the IT and BioTech Revolutions. If Ohio fails to embrace the “all-of the-above” approach to energy, we will miss yet another first-mover opportunity.
Global offshore wind investment will hit $104 billion by 2017, according to Pike Research. These private sector investments result in job growth for this booming yet still young industry. As of 2011, Europe’s offshore industry is employing 45,000 and may reach 300,000 by 2030. Even France, with 80 percent nuclear energy, invested $14 billion in offshore wind because they see economic development for French companies. Understand this is not just “Europe Being Europe.” Companies like Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Daewoo, Fuji, and Toshiba are poised to take advantage of offshore wind opportunities in Asia, India, Canada, South America, and eventually Lake Erie.
As usual, the current debate points at the complexity of energy cost. One side grapples over subsidy disparities and the inclusion of “real costs” like air and water quality. The other side upholds the argument that the free-market dictates all. To be clear, all forms of energy receive subsidies at both the state and federal levels. The government subsidizes all energy sectors because it avoids picking winners. Fortune 500 companies like General Electric or Siemens didn’t pick winners, they do it all. Energy is not just a commodity, it’s a major economy and committing to a diverse portfolio will continue building it.
The government has always invested in energy. In 1957, nuclear was 50 cents per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) and government investment helped play a role in lowering this by more than 80 percent. Onshore wind also started at 50 cents. Research investment (at NASA Glenn in 1974) helped make us a world leader until the 1980 divestment. Today most of this multi-billion dollar industry is located overseas. While it has come back here as a low cost energy source ($0.05/kWh), it is without jobs we could have had.
Look at hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and George Mitchell, a Texas oil man who helped bring shale extraction to cost competiveness. Interestingly enough, the venture capitalist for this new process was what is now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In 1976, the DOE embarked with Mitchell on what was then called “slick-water fracking.” Today, Ohio sees this as an economic opportunity, but not until decades of continuous support helped make the industry successful.
In addition to shale, Ohio is home to a massive resource of offshore wind energy, one that the DOE wants to make investments in. Northeast Ohio-based regional non-profit Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation can help Ohio become beneficiaries of this investment with Icebreaker, a demonstration project seven miles out in Lake Erie.
Icebreaker is a $150-million blueprint for attracting a new industry to the region; an industry that can employ thousands of citizens. Demonstration projects are more costly than full scale deployment, but it is a necessary stepping-stone to drive future costs down. The magnitude of offshore wind paired with economies of scale will demand that towers and foundations are built locally; manufacturing will follow. By hosting the first project, Ohio shores of Lake Erie will become a launch pad for offshore wind development in the Great Lakes and a “know-how” hub for the nation.
As Energy Secretary Steven Chu said last month in Cleveland, “Our motto should be: ‘Invented in America, Made in America, and Sold Worldwide.” Ohio can lead the way in making this slogan a reality.’”
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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