From the inbox comes a surprise, something unsolicited that appears to be a good teaching tool:
ProCon.org is dedicated to educating the public about controversial issues using a nonpartisan pro-con format. Our websites received 5.4 million sessions in 2008, and have been referenced by the BBC, Forbes, New York Times, U.S. Congressional Research Service, 60 Minutes, the Library of Congress, and many other media outlets.
We recently launched a new ProCon.org website on Alternative Energy. As with all our websites, we structure the debate around a core question, and for the alternative energy site we chose the following question: "Can alternative energy effectively replace fossil fuels?"
Due to your involvement in the debate surrounding alternative energy, we have quoted you in the following question on our site: Should the US implement a carbon cap and trade system?
We currently have you listed as "not clearly pro or con" to our main question: "Can alternative energy effectively replace fossil fuels?" If you have a position on this question that you would like to provide us with please let us know so that we can add it to the biography. Responses between 100-200 words in length are preferred.
OK. I'll bite (138 words):
It all depends on how the definition of “effective” is applied in this context. According to Dictionary.com, effective means “adequate to accomplish a purpose.” If the purpose of alternative energy, such as wind and solar, is to provide a substitute for nonrenewable energy, such as oil and coal, then it can be effective. The problem facing proponents of alternative energy is that it is more costly to produce. If oil and coal were priced appropriately, incorporating all of the external costs of production and consumption such as air pollution and long-term climate change, then alternative energy would appear more competitive. However, potential supplies of wind and solar don’t appear to be large enough to completely replace oil and coal in the foreseeable future. If that is the purpose, then no, alternative energy can not effectively replace fossil fuels.
Update, from the inbox:
Thank you very much for your prompt response.
The position statement you provided us with is great and will go a long way in helping our readers understand the nuances involved in the debate surrounding alternative energy.
I have posted your statement to your ProCon.org biography. You can view your biography here: http://alternativeenergy.procon.org/viewsource.asp?ID=008946
We have labeled you as "not clearly pro or con" based on your statement.
Thanks again so much for your great response and If you like the work that Alternative Energy ProCon.org is doing would you please consider spreading the word about us to your friends, students and colleagues?