In the 1950s, our home was in the Stevenson camp. We didn’t Like Ike for president. Although he was undoubtedly a war hero, as a Republican, he seemed to represent big business at the expense of the rest of us – the working people. We were a union household, and back then working people were loath to trust the rich and powerful. After all, American history (in fact, world history) is full of hundreds of years of the rich sacrificing the working people to maintain their wealth and power.
Anyway, we didn’t like Ike as president. But, today, he seems like a hero, compared to many of the feeble and corrupt-minded people currently in power. In the years that followed, I’ve found myself quoting Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. That’s where he refers to the dangers of our then new, military industrial complex. Ike was prescient, for today, much of our foreign policy and our nation’s domestic spending priorities are warped to keep this military industrial complex functioning. We don’t have money to combat climate change. There are no funds to improve education or health care. But we never run out of funds to bomb another country.
I recommend reading this remarkable address, and comparing the words of this exemplary military leader to those we must hear (or read) from our government today. Where are those political leaders when we need them?
Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute:
If our transition to renewable energy is successful, we will achieve savings in the ongoing energy expenditures needed for economic production. We will be rewarded with a quality of life that is acceptable—and, perhaps, preferable to our current one (even though, for most Americans, material consumption will be scaled back from its current unsustainable level). We will have a much more stable climate than would otherwise be the case. And we will see greatly reduced health and environmental impacts from energy production activities.
But the transition will entail costs—not just money and regulation, but also changes in our behavior and expectations. It will probably take at least three or four decades, and will fundamentally change the way we live.
Nobody knows how to accomplish the transition in detail, because this has never been done before. Most previous energy transitions were driven by opportunity, not policy. And they were usually additive, with new energy resources piling onto old ones (we still use firewood, even though we’ve added coal, hydro, oil, natural gas, and nuclear to the mix).
Since the renewable energy revolution will require trading our currently dominant energy sources (fossil fuels) for alternative ones (mostly wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass) that have different characteristics, there are likely to be some hefty challenges along the way.
Therefore, it makes sense to start with the low-hanging fruit and with a plan in place, then revise our plan frequently as we gain practical experience. Several organizations have already formulated plans for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. David Fridley, staff scientist of the energy analysis program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and I have been working for the past few months to analyze and assess those plans and have a book in the works titledOur Renewable Future. Here’s a very short summary, tailored mostly to the United States, of what we’ve found.
Baltimore, MD—Maryland electric customers will save more than $4 billion due to energy efficiency improvements made at homes and businesses through a successful Maryland program, according to a first-of-its-kind study from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The study, co-authored by a former Maryland Public Service Commission energy analyst, highlights how the first phase of EmPOWER Maryland has yielded substantial economic growth and environmental benefits across the state.
EmPOWER Maryland, enacted in 2008, created energy efficiency programs that are offered through the state’s five largest electric utilities. The program helps homeowners and businesses save energy, partly by offering incentives and technical assistance for adding insulation, sealing air leaks, and installing more efficient appliances. It also facilitates efficient commercial lighting and other improvements at industrial facilities.
ACEEE’s study reveals that EmPOWER Maryland has produced significant benefits, including:
The full study can be viewed at: http://aceee.org/research-report/u1701
“EmPOWER Maryland is an unqualified success story for the state,” said Brendon Baatz, study co-author and utilities policy manager at ACEEE. Yet despite its achievements, Baatz believes the program’s future is not guaranteed: “With Phase One of the program complete, Maryland regulators must now renew their support for EmPOWER Maryland so that consumers and businesses can continue to reap the benefits of lower utility bills and cleaner air.”
“EmPOWER has proven critical for helping us improve the energy efficiency of our affordable multifamily properties, which lowers utility costs and provides healthy homes for our residents” said Trisha Miller, sustainability director for WISHROCK. “At Windsor Valley Apartments, EmPOWER helped fund efficiency improvements that are expected to reduce utility bills by as much as 20% per year. Without EmPOWER, the upfront costs of making these upgrades can be prohibitive in the affordable housing industry.”
The first phase EmPOWER Maryland aimed to reduce per capita electricity usage 10% and peak electricity demand 15% by 2015. The Maryland Public Service Commission, in its annual report to the legislature in 2015, concluded that state utilities achieved 99% of the per capita consumption goal and 100% of the per capita demand reduction goal.
Due in part to the EmPOWER Maryland program, Maryland now ranks as the ninth most energy-efficient state in the nation, according to ACEEE.
For 13 years, Sierra has been ranking colleges according to which ones offer the best sustainability-focused courses, eco-friendly (no such thing as eco-friendly) cafeteria provisions, and carbon-neutral land and energy policies, as well as the most opportunities to engage with the environmental movement. Since 2007, sustainability measures that once seemed cutting-edge have become the norm, and we’ve seen schools effect real change across their communities, regions, and states. This year, a record 282 schools vied to become the eco-savviest in all of academia. Please join us in congratulating the tremendously cool—and diverse—schools topping their class in the most crucial subject of all.
Penguins! These adorable flightless birds are cherished by adults and kids alike for their funny ways and their tuxedo-like outfits. The penguin lifestyle is fascinating and their behavior is extraordinary.
A group of these amazing creatures is called a penguin colony, unless the group is floating in the ocean – then it’s known as a “raft.” Penguins mainly feed on krill and fish. They can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes, and dive as deep as 500 meters.
A colony of penguins may look (and sound) like it’s utter chaos, yet parents and chicks can find each other amongst thousands despite the noise. It’s not done visually. Penguins find each other because of an incredible ability to recognize the individual calls of their mates and their babies.
Seventeen distinct penguin species exist in the world. Not all of these penguin species live in the Antarctic, but that’s the area most people associate with these unique birds. Due to several recent events, some experts are asking a troubling question: Could the Antarctic region lose most of their penguins?
There’s a good reason this question is weighing on the minds of many researchers and environmentalists. It’s because of the disturbing decline of colonies within three specific penguin species – Emperor penguins, King penguins, and Adélie penguins. It’s serious enough that the losses have made international headlines.
Naturally, these three separate examples of penguin colony decline raise questions about the effects of climate change on the species. Are we definitely losing penguins to climate change? Could there be other reasons the penguin habitat is disappearing? Is intervention by humans on the fate of penguin colonies, climate change aside, a feasible solution?
Joseph Stiglitz writes in a court brief that fossil fuel-based economies impose ‘incalculable’ costs on society and shifting to clean energy will pay off.
One of the world’s top economists has written an expert court report that forcefully supports a group of children and young adults who have sued the federal government for failing to act on climate change.
See Our Children’s Trust to learn about this important effort.
Joseph Stiglitz, who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics in 2001 and has written extensively about environmental economics and climate change, makes an economic case that the costs of maintaining a fossil fuel-based economy are “incalculable,” while transitioning to a lower-carbon system will cost far less.
The government, he writes, should move “with all deliberate speed” toward alternative energy sources.
Stiglitz has submitted briefs for Supreme Court cases—and normally charges $2,000 an hour for legal advice, the report says—but he wrote this 50-page report pro bono at the request of the attorneys representing the children. It was filed in federal district court in Oregon on June 28.
He is one of 18 expert witnesses planning to testify in the case, scheduled for trial later this year, the children’s lawyers said.
Children are naturally curious and like to learn by doing and what’s better than playing in the dark?
Working in the garden, children can experience satisfaction that comes from caring from something over time and watching it grow while also learning about healthy eating.
If your child is a picky eater and doesn’t like vegetables, you can encourage them through gardening.
Gardening will encourage your children to eat healthier. Studies have shown that students involved in hands-on school gardening programs developed an increased snacking preference for fruits and vegetables. And when parents take the initiative to get involved in gardening with their kids, the results are even better. These studies show a link between growing food and increase food preparation at home as well as a 40% increase in consumption of fresh produce in adults.
Tasks like digging, raking, and turning compost use a lot of muscles in the body. Depending on the intensity of the activity, you could burn anywhere from 250-500 calories in an hour! Not only this, but the act itself teaches children about the patterns of healthy activity, and keeps them outside and away from a computer screen.
Gardening helps your children feel more capable, as they realize what they can do when they nurture and grow something from a seed. Encourage them to make choices (ie. is there enough sunlight in this spot?) and journal the experience so they can look back on the journey.
Gardening helps kids learn how to relax, and teaches them how to calm themselves. Research shows gardening not only has a calming effect on the brain, but benefits extend far beyond the act of gardening itself, such as a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol even after a recovery period.
Visit Diet Spotlight to learn more.
This development could be very big in Arizona where the opportunity for a combination of wind and solar would help local tribes improve their economies and their health.
By, Karen Petersen, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
From the redwood forests of northern California to the green lowlands of upstate New York, from the high desert of southern Nevada to the frozen tundra of northern Alaska, visionary Native American leaders are forging a new path to economic vitality and community resiliency. It’s a new path that honors traditional ways, while addressing longstanding challenges and barriers.
There’s no denying the persistent gaps between American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) populations and the rest of the country in areas such as housing, healthcare, education, and employment. For generations, tribal leaders have worked to close those gaps and provide for their communities, and for some, gaming has provided one avenue for doing so. But forward-looking tribal governments are continually seeking new and innovative approaches to economic development. And increasingly, they are focusing on energy.
Within the broad swaths of mostly rural, often remote land Native Americans call “Indian Country” exist considerable untapped resources. Despite representing less than 2% of the total U.S. land base, Indian lands contain an estimated 5% of all U.S. renewable energy generation potential, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
When considered in light of the rapid decline in costs for clean energy technologies, the proliferation of policies that incentivize clean energy, and the increasingly urgent need for energy transformation, this disproportionate wealth in renewable resources represents a nascent opportunity—one not reserved for tribes alone.
“Indian Country is ripe with opportunity for profitable, mutually beneficial business engagements with tribes,” said DOE Office of Indian Energy Director Chris Deschene.
Deschene’s characterization of the opportunity for energy development on tribal lands is grounded in data-driven analysis and empirical evidence. In addition to funding technical resource and market analyses and contributing to intergovernmental energy and climate initiatives, the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs has an established track record of cultivating propitious – and practicable – tribal energy visions. Since 2002, DOE has invested more than $50 million in nearly 200 tribal energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Now that the power sector is making strong gains on reducing emissions, transportation is the greatest source of climate pollution – accounting for a third of US greenhouse gases.
How do we reel in pollution from millions of cars and trucks? The easiest way that’s a win-win is to make cars and trucks more efficient, so they use less gas. In exchange for being bailed out of bankruptcy by the Obama Administration, automakers – after decades of blocking progress – agreed to produce much more efficient vehicles; 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2016 and 54 mpg by 2025. But now, they want the Trump Administration to relieve them those “expensive, hard to meet targets” and the heavy toll of “burdensome regulations.”
This is exactly why we need regulations. The private sector will not act on its own. All Americans benefit from vastly more efficient cars, trucks and buses – driving a car that gets 54 mpg is a huge step forward from the 24 mpg cars were stuck at for decades.
Individuals and businesses really like going further on a tank of gas. Americans have already saved $35 billion on gas, while avoiding consumption of 270 million barrels of oil, cutting cancer-causing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, all since 2011. The trucking industry actually ASKED for standards – turns out, getting 6 mpg isn’t great for trucking companies!
Fuel economy standards were the single biggest energy efficiency policy of the Obama administration and automakers successfully met the first milestone in 2016 – fleet-wide averages of 35.5 mpg.
Reaching 54 mpg requires innovation and selling lots of hybrids and plug-ins, but right now automakers are mostly selling very profitable gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks. Besides, electric car sales are slow, they opine. Have you ever seen an ad for plug-in or electric cars? The answer is No or Rarely. Have you seen ads for SUVs? Yes, Constantly.
Research on national TV ads confirms this, and there’s also a dearth of electric vehicles (EVs) at dealerships. They either don’t stock them or have a few hidden in the back. Forget a test drive! Salespeople aren’t trained on their benefits and often aren’t aware of state and federal tax credits and rebates. Another survey finds that 60% of Americans don’t even know that plug-ins exist and that 80% have never been in an EV.
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