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Celebrity ‘Fractivists’: True Advocates Or NIMBYs?

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Wind energy currently provides about 2 percent of total U.S. energy, and solar less than 1 percent. Hydropower is about 3 percent, and building more dams would also have environmental effects. In practical terms, it will take decades of nonstop solar, wind and other renewable investment to phase out fossil fuels.

Many celebrities are just beginning to embrace renewables. Sean Lennon told the AP in January that the family farm in upstate New York is still conventionally powered.

“I’m actually looking into it. It’s a long process,” Lennon said. “I’ve met with a lot of solar companies. I’m looking for the best possible solution, and there are a lot of options out there.”

Redford spokeswoman Joyce Deep wrote in an email that he installed passive solar in his home in the mid-’70s, but she didn’t know details about more recent installations. “Passive solar” means using windows or other materials in an energy-conscious way, not solar panels. Deep noted that Sundance, the Utah resort Redford helped found, uses some renewable energy.

Baldwin declined to comment about how much renewable energy he had installed, and Ono’s spokesperson said Lennon spoke for her, too.

Ruffalo, an Academy Award-nominated actor, made the switch to solar last year on his property in New York’s Catskill Mountains, also near gas reserves. “In fact, I have a 14 KW system on my single property,” Ruffalo wrote in an email. “It is a beautiful system.” And Fox said he uses electricity from wind power on a Pennsylvania property.

But experts note that even renewables need conventional backup, since the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.

“It demonstrates the ignorance of renewable power advocates to suggest that renewables can run without gas. We don’t get to say, ‘I only want solar and wind,”’ Shellenberger said.

Even the success that turns people into celebrities often involves tremendous amounts of energy.

Restaurateur and Food Network star Batali started with one restaurant. He now has 16 – in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore – all using natural gas to cook.

Some of his restaurants “use a percentage of green power to help offset some of our non-renewable energy consumption, and we are looking to do more in the future,” Batali spokeswoman Elizabeth Meltz wrote in an email.

Some celebrities acknowledge the complexities.

“Obviously the entire society is addicted to fossil fuels, and the reason that we’re fractivists is to try to move toward a renewable economy,” Lennon said. “That doesn’t mean that any of us have extracted ourselves completely from the society itself, because the entire city’s running off of oil and gasoline.”

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Apr 1st, 2013 and filed under American Street Guide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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