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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dire Predictions

Mike Mann and Lee Kump weigh in with "Dire Predictions"
11 Aug 08

. . .

With its eye-grabbing graphics and reader-friendly prose, Dire Predictions walks us through the findings of the world's leading climate scientists - and places the ultimately responsibility for the human future directly at our feet. -- Ross Gelbspan

Here's a powerful, straight-forward guide to how scientists, economists, and engineers really understand the problem of global warming. It makes 20 years of research and consensus-building completely accessible to anyone who cares to know the truth--and to do something about it. -- Bill McKibben

Dire Predictions is a must read for anyone who wants the straight facts on global warming. It cuts to the heart of the massive 2007 IPCC report, presenting major scientific findings in easy to understand language and graphics. Written by two of the scientific community's most thoughtful researchers, Dire Predictions' unbiased message about global warming arrives at a time when people need it most! -- Dr. Heidi Cullen, Climate Expert at The Weather Channel

For our friends in Corvallis area

Many folks in Oregon would profit from a solar hot-water system, preferably one installed before the end of 2008 to take advantage of generous federal tax credits slated to expire this year. (Far more so than the solar electric systems that get a lot more attention but are MUCH more expensive to install and are much more picky about shading from nearby trees and such.)

Corvallis area folks have a chance to attend a workshop put on by Solar Oregon that explains the ins and outs of this smart way to reduce your carbon footprint while also reducing your utility bills:

The use of solar energy is back in the spotlight again and our free workshops are quickly filling to capacity. That's why I wanted to take a moment to invite you to register early for the FREE Hot Water Solar Systems workshop being held at the Corvallis Public Library on September 6th from 9:00AM to 11:30AM.

Seating capacity is limited - so register ASAP.

Here is a link for more information and registration to this free workshop.

Solar Oregon is a local nonprofit organization of Oregon.

Please feel free to pass this on to your friends and neighbors too.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Best,

Hadley Price

The largest ground transport system in the country

. . . sits idle most of the day and much of the year, while absorbing huge chunks of capital that could have been invested in providing cleaner, smarter transport for all. Isn't it odd that money supposedly targeted for schools is actually being spent to deal with the blunders in our land-use planning and in our hostile-to-everyone-but-motorists transportation system?

How about we make ODOT and city and county planning departments pay the costs of getting kids to schools? Wouldn't that lead to more sensible decisions?

The problem isn't just the cost of school bus fuel--it's the model of mega-schools that are so large that they have to draw students from such a large area that motorized transport is required.

Outside rural areas where relatively few students live, most kids should never see a school bus, period.

Climate Change: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

From the folks at Onward Oregon:

Are the twin challenges of climate change and disappearing fossil fuel reserves a huge threat to America or do they provide the greatest opportunity of our time?

How we answer this question will help determine how we respond. Cylvia Hayes, executive director of 3E Strategies, believes now is our big chance to face up to these challenges. Here is a summary of her thinking:

Chances are pretty good that if we were to sit down and create an ideal energy system from scratch it wouldn’t look like the one we have now! Our current fossil fuel-based energy system is threatening our environmental life support systems. At the same time, our nation is now importing over 60 percent of our oil, much of it from politically unstable regions in the Middle East and Africa.

However, a fossil-based system did make sense when it was created. In 1859, the discovery of oil in the U.S. solved many problems. It allowed us to grow more food and move into the industrial age. Petroleum-based plastics brought great advancements in medicine, transportation and communications technologies.

These innovations enabled our numbers to grow from approximately 25 million people in 1859 to 300 million today. Average life expectancy has nearly doubled to 80 years. These are phenomenal successes. Unfortunately, along the way we developed an economic system that results in the emission of staggering amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Global climate change is the unforeseen and unintended consequence of America’s economic success.

As Americans, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for this success. The people who tapped the first wells couldn’t have imagined a globally connected economy. They couldn’t have imagined our world population would go from one billion to 6.5 billion in just 15 decades. They also couldn’t have imagined the unintended new problems that would come along with our fossil fuel consumption. Problems like climate change.

Fossil fuels made sense at the time. They no longer do. It is time to rekindle those best of American traits--innovation, idealism and hard work--in order to make the rapid transition to a post fossil fuel, low-carbon economy.

We have the necessary resources to do it:

Solar: Every hour the Earth receives enough energy from the sun to supply more than ten times the electricity needs of all of humanity.
Geothermal: The heat in the upper six miles of Earth’s crust has 50,000 times more energy than all the world’s oil and gas reserves combined.
Wind: The winds in Oregon, North Dakota and Texas alone are enough to satisfy our national electricity needs.
Transportation: Plug-in hybrid cars are capable of going about 50 miles using no gasoline at all and overall get around 100 miles per gallon. Big breakthroughs are happening in passenger and freight rail efficiency.
Already, some of the early stepping stones are being laid on the road to a post fossil fuel economy. The wind, solar, hydrogen and biofuels sectors reached $55.4 billion in 2006. Investment in these four energy sources are projected to be $226 billion by 2016. Economists expect that energy efficiency products will likely generate even larger revenues. Current estimates in the U.S. are that renewable energy and energy efficiency generate $970 billion and could be as high as $4.5 trillion by 2030.

Yet, despite the specter of climate change and the obvious economic opportunities in the clean energy industry, as a nation we are not moving nearly fast enough. Each American produces many times more carbon than people anywhere else on the planet. Our demand for oil continues to grow. Renewable energy accounts for only about six percent of America’s energy consumption.

Why? Why are we stuck here, moving so slowly toward a lucrative solution?
It comes down to three reasons: First, we only recently reached the point where we can see that the damage caused by fossil fuels outweighs their very real benefits. Second, only in the past couple of decades have renewable energy technologies become advanced enough to replace fossil fuels. And third, there are now a lot of stakeholders invested in the status quo.

These stakeholders include the automobile industry, oil and gas production companies, utilities, not to mention consumers who have a big appetite for fossil fuel and are deeply ingrained in a driving culture--like you and me.

When any proposal to change the system is put forward, these stakeholders become advocates for or against it based on how they think it will impact them economically in the short term. So far, these competing economic interests have effectively blocked any serious consideration of a solution to a problem that poses a clear and present danger to our nation and our planet.

How then can we accelerate the transition to a sustainable future? First we need to acknowledge that today there are millions of people whose jobs depend on the current fossil fuel-based economy and nobody wants to lose their job.

Similarly, millions of people drive inefficient cars and heat and cool their homes with fossil fuels. People will not give them up without affordable alternatives.

The challenge is to acknowledge the very real economic interests involved and find ways to make this transition while keeping everyone’s livelihoods intact. And this is doable!

The skills required to drill for geothermal resources are similar to those used by oil well drillers. The expertise needed to run a clean bio-energy turbine is the same as that of a coal turbine operator. The skills needed to manufacture solar panels are very similar to those required to manufacture inefficient SUVs.

Our grandparents and great grandparents built the infrastructure we currently enjoy--the highway system, the transmission grid, the oil wells and coal plants. Now, we need to lay down the infrastructure of the future.

This is our watch. It is our time to create a post fossil fuel, low-carbon economy. If we decide to suck it up and get it done, we could make the transition to a post-fossil fuel economy in twenty years.

What we need is a unified commitment similar to what we had during World War II. When the US entered the war, we literally re-wired our economy to meet the challenge. Automakers became airplane and tank makers. Housewives became machinists. A carousel manufacturer converted to making spark plugs. Everybody had jobs. And in three years time we ended the war.

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before us. To seize it, we must once again think of ourselves as citizens rather than just consumers. It is easy to feel powerless as individuals in America right now. Mega corporations are turning record profits while they pollute our skies, rivers and oceans and as it gets harder and harder for regular people to pay their bills and dig out of debt. But we must recognize corporations and governments are made up of individuals, and individuals can reshape them to reflect the values that once made America great-- responsibility, innovation and willingness to take risks for bold dreams.

We have a responsibility to solve this problem and seize this opportunity--to act boldly and use our imaginations and drive. We can restore our environment and create prosperous 21st century economies in the United States and Europe, even in the Middle East and Africa.

I believe it is genuinely amazing to be alive during such an important and transformative time.

We have a chance to lend our creativity and will to the groundswell that is rising up to simultaneously solve the climate crisis and create enormous economic opportunity. This is our time to protect and restore this beautiful blue planet that sustains us and to give our kids and grandkids a shot at a healthy, peaceful life, full of opportunity. This is our chance to achieve something truly great.

And we CAN do it.

Thank you,
The Team at Onward Oregon

Salem River Crossing - September 3 - next joint Task Force and Oversight Team meeting

Hello Everyone,
 
Please mark your calendars. The next joint Task Force and Oversight Team meeting will be on Wednesday, September 3 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in the Anderson Auditorium at the Salem Public Library (585 Liberty St SE).
 
More information will be emailed to you as we get closer to the meeting.
 
Thank you,
Brandy Steffen
CH2M HILL

Oddly enough, if you follow the links to the calendar page for the project (http://www.salemrivercrossing.org/calendar.aspx) you are told that "Meeting materials will be available at the link above."  Nothing there in the way of materials.