Thursday, March 15, 2012
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Reality is telling us to downscale and get different fast. Quit doing everything possible to prop up the drive-in false utopia and all its accessories. Get local. Tighten up. It looks certain that most folks have no intention of doing that.
I admit that contraction is a hard reality - but so is the recognition that we don't get to live forever, something every child begins to grapple with around age seven. The inability of our society to face comprehensive contraction will only insure that its side effects are more debilitating and cut deeper.
It is important for our local communities to think about powering down -- how we could accomplish the various aspects of our lives (food, water, clothing, education, etc) with very little or even no oil. We must also plan for how we will accomplish these with far less money. Things like local reskilling, local resource base, and local production -- coupled with local bartering networks -- become critical parts of the solution. The six R's of lower consumption are important to keep in mind as well. We can happily manage with far less by reducing, recycling, reusing, repairing, re-finishing, and repurposing.
Make every single purchase count toward preparing you and your community for what lies ahead. Gain the new skills. Hook up water barrels, put away vegetable seeds, track down mechanical/power-free tools into your neighborhood. But there is no substitute for real connection with your neighbors. Set up chances to meet one another. As the economy continues to contract, knowing the people who live within 15 minutes of you become your de-facto community. Get to know them, and let them know you. When the Federal Government finally admits it does not have the ability to improve our lives, we will have a local network already in place.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Xcel abrupt and self-interested move is devastating to Colorado’s 400 solar companies. Suspending the Solar Rewards program could stop all future residential and commercial solar installations and solar leases that were counting on the rebates. The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) predicts 2,000 to 3,000 people who work in the solar industry will loose their jobs.
Black Hills Energy in Pueblo pulled a similar move by suspending its solar rebates in October 2010 causing a 90% decrease in solar sales and significant job losses. The current solar rebate program had been working well. Slowly ratcheting down incentives as solar costs decreased, incentives were reduced nearly 50% during the past two years as solar electric costs decreased by 40-50% during the same period.
Citizens, to help reinstate solar rebates at both Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy please take two minutes to express your opinion by filling out the online form at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Refer to docket # A-135 E.
Before Xcel pulled the rug out from under the solar industry, rebate changes were predictable, incremental and transparent. Zero notice and eliminating a successful incentive program shows Xcel’s disregard for renewable energy in our state and the environment.
Public citizen support and the passage of Amendment 37, spurred Colorado to become the #2 state in the U.S. for solar jobs with 5,300 people working in the solar industry in our state, and a national leader in reducing CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2020.
Xcel’s self-interested move makes me further distrust the utility monopoly as a future provider for Boulder’s energy future. As a concerned citizen, now I feel even more drawn to have Boulder take control of our electricity supply. More at www.renewablesYES.org.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Over the next decade the kind of job creation we can expect, will be in areas which have not seen growth in decades. As our economy shifts from a global consumerist one, to a much more local community focus, we will see a complex network of local economics re-emerge. I expect to see entire industries flourish based on a relocalization of many of our most basic needs.
Decentralization of the Energy Grid
The current emphasis on renewable energy will grow as more and more as home owners, businesses, local, state, and federal government buildings, military bases, and schools install power generation systems. This is a very good thing for jobs, for grid efficiency, and even for national security. The design, installation, monitoring, and maintenance of these systems will generate millions of jobs
Growing Local Farms
As I write, less than 2% of all Americans grow the food grown in this country. As the cost to transport food from the other side of the planet increases, it will become an economic requirement to grow more of our food in our own soil. Farmers will become our new "rock stars" transforming vacant lots, abandoned suburbs, big box parking lots and city parks and open spaces into productive agricultural farms. America will once again become an agricultural nation where many of us will spent at least some part of our work hours planting, weeding, harvesting, and selling food to one another. We will re-learn the challenges and the delights of growing more of our food close to where we live.
Made in America
America was built on the strength of our manufacturing. But almost all of it has been sent overseas. As the price of oil returns to triple-digit prices we will see a manufacturing renaissance in America. The cost of moving raw materials and finished products around the world will no longer make economic sense. But instead of the containers filled with plastic trinkets we will shift our attention to making the things people need. The consumptive consumerist lifestyle may have seen its last hurrah with the bursting of the housing bubble and the disappearance of trillions of dollars of our savings, home equity, and retirement accounts. Many of us can no longer afford to buy all the "stuff" we had been convinced we needed.
Second Hand Renaissance
I am convinced that much of the manufacturing jobs will not involve new materials. Out of necessity we are seeing a meteoric rise in industries that reuse, recycle, repair, and refinish things. From clothing, to furniture, building materials, and car parts in almost every town the skills needed to re-build and repair broken or work out items will once again become a popular and necessary.
I close with a quote from Jim Howard Kuntsler,
If you want something like gainful employment in the years ahead, don't rely on the corporations, the government, or anyone with a work station equipped cubicle. Start reading up on gardening and harness repair. Learn how to fix a pair of shoes. Volunteer for EMT duty if you're already out of a paycheck, and learn how to comfort people in medical distress. Jobs of the future will be hands-on and direct. I have no idea what medium of exchange you'll get paid with, but a chicken is a good start.Have a great day and go out and learn a new skill. It will be well worth your time.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Because of this 4-fold increase in the price of gas, from $0.28 a gallon to a stifling $1.00 a gallon, 2 critically important things happened.
First, American's learned to put gasoline into their own cars! Imagine that. Filling stations were magically transformed into 24 hour "gas and go's." The huge price increases caused filling stations to shutter and those who survived scaled back their staff to a bare minimum. The second culture shaking change was the elimination of that sweet bell which sang out as every galllon of gas poured into our ever thirsty automobiles, trucks and motorcycles.
During those early years American's were shocked to learn that the once gasoline exporter of the world, imported almost 25% of our gas from other countries from around the world. But those days are long gone. Now as we rack up just over 3,000,000,000,000 miles every year (that's trillion folks) we have certainly learned our lessions. For the most recent calendar year we have only imported 76% of our gasoline from outside this great country with average oil prices at $84 per barrel and average national pump prices for regular gas selling $2.85 a gallon.
I can't wait to see what we learn next!
Friday, October 15, 2010
Boulder has recently embarked on a pioneering process to produce a landmark 2011 Clean Energy Action Plan. The City is seeking input from all stakeholders, including citizens, small business owners, large utility customers, technical experts on renewable energy, and community organizations to shape its Clean Energy Future.
Note that City Council Energy Round tables are open to the public and will continue though December 14. Energy Round tables take place every other Tuesday at 5 pm directly before City Council meetings in the lobby of the downtown Municipal Building. The next one is Tuesday, Oct. 26 from 5-6 pm.