As an environmental attorney, I have seen first-hand the hard-fought battles involving the one thing (other than smartphones themselves-and they even need it) modern humans in developed countries absolutely cannot live without. Of course, I am talking about electricity, that necessity of contemporary life which provides us heat in the winter and cool air in the summer, keeps our perishable foods fresh, provides lights for our homes, offices and city streets, and most importantly keeps us connected to the INTERNET. How would today’s society function without the ability to text a friend while eating family dinner, talk loudly on one’s cell phone while in line at the grocery store, or post on Facebook, Instagram or Tumbler a selfie or post on Vine, Vemio or youtube a video of a cat performing a marginally amusing trick? The answer to my hypothetical question is simply WE CAN’T.
A surface coal-mining operation (oftentimes erroneously called mountaintop mining)
I have been involved in the most contentious legal actions of my career, pitting coal
companies, mineral rights owners, coal miners and their service industries against
environmentalists and State (state environmental resource agencies) and Federal (U.S. E.PA.,
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) Agencies. Oftentimes, the side a particular state or federal
agency adopted depended upon which administration was in office in any given year.
During my career, I was also involved in a number of hydroelectric power generation plant
constructions, which was met with less objection by environmental groups, but opposed by
farmers (whose land would be appropriated), groups or state and federal agencies concerned with potential fish kills or
disturbance of mussel beds or migratory bird habitat, and occasionally archaeological associations and Native
American Tribes concerned with potential disturbance of ancestral grave or habitation sites.
When involved with projects involving the construction and operation of “wind farms” for
the generation of electricity, I was mildly surprised by the degree of objection I encountered–
–this time from state and federal agencies and environmental groups based on potential destruction to migratory water fowl
which would be destroyed in the power-producing blades or the removal of mostly dead or decaying
trees which served as habitat for the federally-listed endangered Indiana bat orthe potential loss of the federally
–listed, endangered plant, Running Buffalo Clover. Additionally, as would be expected, wind-farms
were opposed my NIMBYs (homeowners near a particular site who believe an activity will interfere with the use
and enjoyment of their property or decrease their property’s fair market value.) The acronym represents the
term, “Not In My Back Yard.”
Luckily, perhaps soon, modern society will be provided with an almost endless supply of power which would not be expected to arouse anger within the environmental community or with state and Federal agencies. In fact the production of electricity through this method will be as simple and easy as a parent dropping his or her son(s) and daughter(s) and their friends off at a local mall, or taking them to a professional sporting event or concert of their favorite musical group. Of course, the power to which I refer is . . .
. . . PEDAL POWER!
Entrepreneur Laurence Kemball-Cook had a “brainwave” six years ago which provided him with the idea to produce electricity unlike any system of power production in modern history. Mr. Kemball-Cook has developed and produced a working model of an electricity-production system which relies solely upon people walking across a system of tiles, which stores and collects the energy produced with each strike of a shoe to his specially designed tiles and distributes that energy to the power grid. An article appearing in The Guardian on January 11, 2015 (the link provided below) describes how Mr. Kemball-Cook’s electricit’s-producing tiles work, what stage of development the trials are in and which lucky investors were fortunate enough to invest in this brilliant system in its infancy.