I attended a day-long seminar at the engineering school at the U of M back in October: “Energy from Renewables: Confronting Global Collapse.” It was a mix of hope and despair. Lots of good information, much of it new to me. And a clear message that our timeline for action is really, really short. Various speakers offered guidance on steps we need to take right now, and glimpses of amazing technologies that we can only hope will be perfected and rolled out in the near future.
After attending that seminar, any talk about 2050 is no longer credible to me. We do not have that long to make a significant change. According to folks at The Solutions Project, we need to shift to 80% renewables by 2030. So tell me what we can do today and by 2020 and by 2025.
Energy Seminar Lights a Fire
Action 1: Work immediately on energy efficiency in every possible way. Dig into your energy bills. Cut!
Action 2: Reduce your carbon footprint immediately. If you drive more than 8,000 miles a year, lease an electric car. Some things may need to fly, but you and I are not among them.
Sculpture in Sebastapol
Action 3: Electrify your life. Shift everything you can to electric and shift your electricity to solar or other renewables. If you can afford rooftop solar, do it now (and with batteries). If you can’t but want it, see if you can do a bulk buy deal with some neighbors to get the price down. If you can’t do that, buy into a community solar garden even if it doesn’t save you money.
Stop thinking that money is your return on investment. A livable climate is the only return that counts right now. Invest in life.
Action 4: Think twice about rice. That food is responsible for 46% of all crop-related greenhouse gas emissions. Eat local, reduce meat consumption, support responsible farmers. Know that when raised right, grazing animals are good for the land. (Think about it, they evolved together and this country used to be home to millions of buffalo.)
Action 5: If you own land, reforest and food forest. Gardeners, do not buy peat.
Action 6: Practice hospitality now, in a variety of ways, so you will be prepared to practice it in earnest in the not too distant future. Greenland has lost a trillion tons of ice in four years and ice melt is accelerating, as is sea level rise. Your Florida relatives may soon be living with you.
Our business schools are a training ground for climate denial, which prevents action from occurring and regulations from being adopted. Our business schools need to be confronted and transformed.
The media has been a tool in the hands of deniers. They need to be held accountable. In 1996, the Minnesota News Council DID hold one of them accountable for turning to a famous climate denier for “balance” in a news story. The News Council no longer exists, but you and I are still here. We must raise a ruckus to shine a light on false stories, false premises, false “fairness.”
“When it comes to the environment, the invisible hand never picks up the check.” — Kim Stanley Robinson