My work at the Shi Center has revealed some significant flaws within the world of sustainability. First off, the world of sustainability is political and the renewable energy market is dominated by government-enforced utility monopolies. Take South Carolina for an example. In early June, a bill was passed to raise South Carolina’s solar capacity for both residential and non-residential institutions. Everyone that had anything to do with politics in this state cheered and felt that a victory had been won. By examining the details of the bill, I have seen that this act does nothing more than provide a drop of water into a bucket for sustainability measures. The state kept the control of energy-generating systems out of the hands of the consumer and in the hands of the utilities, while still limiting the power that these systems can produce. Now I do not blame utilities for being so intrusive in legislation, they are the result of failed planning of an outdated business plan, which has difficulty catering to both renewable and non-renewable energy sources that are created either from facilities or residential homes. The utility companies are then forced to buy the energy produced from residential/non-residential areas by the government. Consequently, it is not economical for either the consumer or the utility to go “green”.
My other problem I noticed is the idea that it is not in the best interest of most people to practice sustainable measures. The companies who claim to be carbon neutral are not truly carbon neutral because buy their offset from other sources since that’s the most feasible way to do so. There are few companies actually achieve true carbon neutrality. The only organization that I have found that made it in their best interest to be sustainable is Wal-Mart, a company that has been subjected to criticism about their “environmental friendliness”. Wal-Mart has the most Mega Watts of solar installed than any other company in the United States and they were one of the first companies to go out of their way and request that their manufactures use eco-friendly boxes. Their criticism came from a woman named Stacey Mitchell who basically explained that Wal-Mart donated to free market groups around the country so they can monopolize solar energy. I am sorry to upset her “ingenious” calculations, but is it so strange that Wal-Mart would donate money to a group that advocates for free markets, considering that a free market is where a company like Wal-Mart thrives the most? The groups advocating for free markets oppose government subsidies for sustainability measures because these subsidies come out of the taxpayer’s pockets. Solar energy will never become popular because of anything the government will do for the consumers; instead, solar energy will become popular when solar is mass-produce for an affordable price. I will hope that other companies around the world will look to Wal-Mart as an environmentally friendly role model.