Category Archives: energy programs

Going Bigger, Much Bigger

These baby steps we are taking to stop climate change are not enough. Yes, I do believe in climate change. I will cast my lot with the scientists rather than the politicians and the oil men (the oligarchs). We need to go bigger. We need to go much bigger.

Solar panels

I have written about this before but I will keep urging that we act on some kind of Solar Panel Program for America. Perhaps it could be a program like the Energy Star Program which gave rebates if you updated to energy efficient windows, doors, and if you added insulation. There were also energy rebates for updated furnaces and appliances if they were more energy efficient. Since solar panels are so expensive, the costs might be prohibitive even with a rebate. Perhaps each year there could be a lottery that would update a certain number of homes without up-front payment. Payments could be made by paying your old average energy fee and subtracting the costs of energy with solar panels and then applying the difference against the cost of the solar panels. I’m not an expert in economics or in designing either public or private programs, but I’m sure there is someone who can turn this idea into a successful program. In fact, there are programs that allow you to lease solar panels.

If all of our homes had either solar power, or if solar power was not viable than perhaps a neighborhood could share and pay for a windmill or other wind capturer/converter, wouldn’t that stop a lot of CO2emissions?  I also saw that it is possible to make solar panels that also act as siding. We’d feel much better about our comfortable lifestyles (which we really would hate to lose) if we did not feel that in order to be comfortable we will end up destroying our planet.

Simplify, simplify

Americans like to go at life with passion, verve, and energy; and sometimes with ambition, chicanery, and greed. We are supposed to succeed and in big ways or we are seen as failures by ourselves and others. Everything in America is supposed to move upward and we have taken this to our hearts both figuratively and literally. We are climbers of mountains, riders of zip lines, bungee jumpers, and sky divers. We will work 80+ hours each week to climb the ladder of success, for corporate advancement, to be a leading entrepreneur, a sports or music figure, a doctor, artist, dancer, film star, inventor, lawyer, thinker, educator, or innovator.

But right now America is slowing down just a bit. Perhaps we are supposed to be slowing down, taking a breath, collecting ourselves, listening for the small voice of creativity that sometimes eludes us until we are in the shower, or driving home, or washing dishes. We have this big energy problem to solve. We use too large a share of the world’s available energy. While it is true that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be changed into another form. The form that the energy we are using is changing into is CO2 and that CO2 is making our planet warmer. It is also true that the planet will not die off right away if it warms up. But the extra heat will have effects that we won’t like. It already is. Perhaps you are not one of the people who feels bad about the extinction of species (like the polar bear), but some of us do. And whether we believe or not that the level of the oceans will rise doesn’t matter because it is already happening. It does not really matter if you believe that climate change will bring more extreme weather because that more extreme weather is already here.

When I first heard that some states were breaking paved roads up and turning them into gravel roads I was shocked. Are they doing this because we are poor or because they are deep into their small government campaign? My guess is that both things are true. However, maybe for our own reasons we ought to think about simpler lives, less spiffy roads, really switching out our gasoline-powered cars for cars powered by electricity (once again there could be programs to help us switch). We could just slow our lives down just a bit, not go at life like it’s an obstacle to be overcome or beaten into submission. We could be more Zen, more jazz, and less MMA, less hard rock, or rap. We could still be modern with our jets and our high speed trains but our pace would just be less assertive, less aggressive. We’d still work hard, but maybe 40 hours a week will be enough or 60; not 80. If we slow down just a bit who knows how many things might occur to us. We might even get more exercise and stay fit. We could savor that coffee, smell those roses. And stop adding to global warming.

Whatever we do let’s go big! Let’s pick at least one strategy that will lower our fossil fuel use a lot and let’s stay with it. I just do not have faith that my little blue bins are getting the job done. Keep in mind: we are not wealthy. We will need help if America decides to go big.

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