On Oct. 14, investigators in San Bruno, Calif., announced that they are closer to finding the cause of the gas pipeline explosion that occurred last month.
However, the investigation was able to uncover that "At 6:11 when the blast happened, PG&E monitors recorded a drop in pressure, which likely occurred after the pipe burst, which released the gas igniting a deadly fireball;" as well as, "PG&E did not dispatch workers to cut off the flow of gas to the ruptured pipeline until 34 minutes after the explosion." Sounds like they cracked the code.
The investigation, which is being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, still doesn't have a "cause" yet, but the NTSB claims it will come to some sort of conclusion...next year. Meanwhile, the same line that ruptured just so happens to run underneath another San Francisco neighborhood. PG&E, who operates the line, said it is going to replace the line...in 2013.
Here's a really simplistic statement: You know what doesn't explode in the middle of the night? Solar panels. I know, this is a huge generalization, and just because this happened once in California, doesn't mean it's a trend. But bear with me.
Gas pipelines do ignite every so often. It's not a common occurrence, but it happens about 10 to 20 times a year in the U.S.; there have been three this year. Not all of these events result in deaths, but some do. Eight people died in the San Bruno explosion, and one more died in Texas earlier this year.
So with the danger in mind (nine people a year is not substantial; in fact, more people died by swallowing ballpoint pens in 2010), it's odd that people raise so much protest when organizations advocate for a complete infrastructure overhaul, in this case, solar or wind energy replacing gas, oil, and coal.
One argument I hear on a daily basis is that by shutting down the current energy infrastructure, we are ostensibly putting thousands of workers out of a job. There's no way to slip past that concept. It's the truth. But since when did we start blindly following the idea that any job is a good job. By that logic, terrorists who receive monthly allowances from their leaders could argue that without that gig, they would be unemployed. OK, so that was a bit of a hyperbolic comparison, but the logic is sound. If men and women are working for an out-of-date, dangerous industry, then their jobs, which support and maintain such a system, are no longer necessary.
Say there is an old sandwich shop, and the ingredients were found to cause cancer in 57 percent of all the consumers who ate there. I doubt there would be much of an argument to keep the shop open in order to secure the employees' income after those numbers hit the public.
The reality is that those workers would need to be trained for another job, or it would be their own responsibility to find a new line of work. That scares a lot of people, which is understandable in this economy. But that's our new excuse for everything: "This economy." Sit in a courtroom anywhere in the U.S., and I guarantee you hear at least half the criminals blame hard economic times for the reason they are in shackles. I'm not saying we throw people who are down on their luck to the wolves, but there's really no excuse for stealing from another person to support yourself. We call this Duress, but ultimately, you are making the decision that your needs outweigh another's. The man working at the liquor store you robbed may be struggling, too. Off subject. Let's continue.
The idea here is change. We think it should be painless, overnight, and cheap. That's a fairytale. Sure, rewiring our energy infrastructure would be painful, take years, and cost a ton, but imagine not having to mine for our energy sources (West Virginia residents will thank you), drill ocean floors (Gulf fishermen will thank you), and pipe explosive material underneath neighborhoods (San Bruno citizens will thank you).
I can tell that a group of you have something to say about the West Virginia residents, many of whom are, in fact, miners. Sure, they will need to do something else. They'll be out of a job. They'll also live longer, breathe better, and be around to raise their children. It's never too late to learn a new trade, and guess which industry will be booming.
Exactly. The building and maintaining of our new infrastructure will create thousands of jobs. Even right now, solar industry jobs are increasing at a furious pace.
So don't be fooled. Change is a good thing, but it's hard to achieve. There will always be a movement in our country that supports a return to the past, to the way things used to be, but it's always rooted in something much darker. Ideology, religion, money: these things are the impetus behind all the noise. Tune it out, and move forward. If we had found the answer before, then we could all point to a time in history when everyone was happy, healthy, secure, employed, and safe.
That time doesn't exist. We haven't got it right yet.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)