Tag Archives: renewable energy

Energy Workshop is a Call to Action

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

Tuesday, Nov 27, Take Action for the Climate

The Environmental Quality Board is holding public meetings across the state of Minnesota to gather input for the statewide Environmental Congress in March. Tuesday, November 27, is the only date of a meeting in the Twin Cities. It will be held at Normandale Community College from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.

This is a critical opportunity to deliver a clear message to state leaders about the need for  immediate action on the climate. Luckily for Minnesotans, we can make one simple request:  “Implement the Next Generation Energy Act.” Signed into law in 2007 by Governor Pawlenty (R), this Act is quite possibly the most progressive climate change legislation in the nation but it has been languishing, unimplemented. We need the current Administration and legislature to move this forward.

Key Points of the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007

1. Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions:

  • Relative to 2005 base levels, the state must cut greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025 and  80 percent by 2050.
  • The state must derive 25% of its total energy from renewable power sources by 2025 (“25 by 25″).
  • No large fossil fuel-fired power plant can be built in Minnesota.
  • No utility can import electricity from a large fossil fuel-fired power plant built in another state that was not operating on Jan. 1, 2007.

2. Energy conservation: The law contains a five-part conservation and efficiency strategy, including establishing a statewide energy conservation goal of 1.5 percent of annual retail electric and gas sales.

3. Community-based energy development: The law overhauls the state’s existing energy development statutes.

An added benefit to implementing this existing law is that such significant changes in our energy infrastructure will create a large number of new jobs. Job creation is Governor Dayton’s primary focus so this message should be well received.

“Implement the Next Generation Energy Act!”

Spread the message. This soundbite must be repeated consistently to our elected officials at this and other Citizen Forums scheduled around the state:

  • Rochester: Wood Lake Meeting Center, Nov. 27, 9:30 a.m. – 12 noon
  • Duluth: Lake Superior College, Nov. 28, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Worthington: Worthington High School, Dec 10 – 3:30 – 6:00 p.m.
  • St. Cloud: Stearns County Service Center, Dec 12 – 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Moorhead: Minnesota State University, Dec 14 – 3:00 – 5:30 p.m.