Let’s imagine a fictitious person called Jimmy, who like many of us, is trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. Jimmy commits to eating healthier food.
There’s a fantastic deli next to his office that offers delicious lite fare at lunch. He gets great salads everyday and feels pretty good about himself after lunch. Unfortunately, there aren’t many good, quick dinner options on the way home at night, except for a greasy spoon with great burgers. So, Jimmy just eats fried food for dinner, rather than go through the trouble to eat healthy.
Jimmy feels bad about that and strikes upon a novel idea. He decides to buy his co-worker Susie a healthy lunch, and in exchange, he asks Susie to pay for his burgers at night. The rationale is that while his lifestyle may not be all that healthy, at least Jimmy is only buying healthy food. He’s in balance with karma and doing his part to fight the obesity epidemic that has been troubling him.
Fast forward a month. Susie has bought into being healthier, and she decides she wants to eat healthy at lunch any way. She also doesn’t like financing two unhealthy meals anymore. They both revert to buying healthy lunches for themselves and looking for new folks with whom to make the unconventional burger trade, which gets harder and harder to do.
At this point, I hope you’re saying, “Brian, this is a really convoluted and contrived story line.”
I agree. It is. Totally nutty. But, it’s exactly what’s going on with energy and carbon, instead of food and calories.
Solar households generate green electrons around noon, and they give the excess to their neighbors to use then. When they come home at night, they still use brown electrons produced by coal or gas. It the same as buying two salads for lunch, one for you and one for someone else, in exchange for having that person buy you a burger for dinner.
Both lite lunches and solar are certainly good for society to drive healthier consumption overall, but they fall short of what we need to do... individually and societally.
From where I sit, it’s irrational to have a conversation about eating healthy that doesn’t cover lunch and dinner. It’s equally irrational to have a conversation about solar without storage.
Lest anyone be confused, I’m not saying we should slow down our efforts to eat healthy at lunch, deploy solar, and ensure that others do the same. We absolutely should. But, if we want to really be healthy we have to figure out how we eat fewer burgers for dinner and how we use green energy in the evenings. Otherwise, we’re kidding ourselves about how far we’ll get.