What with a circus going on in the political arena and so much agony around the world, it seemed to me that at this time of year we should focus for a moment, at least, on some good news. And there is good news, at least on the environmental front — which may be the most vital front of all — starting with the Paris Accords. . I quote here from this month’s Sierra magazine skipping, for obvious reasons, the bleak news they also tend to fill their magazine with.
To begin with, there is this nice tid-bit titled “The Clean Energy Boom”:
“Renewable energy in the United States has taken off faster than a smartphone-app-start-up. In the decade between 2005 and 2014, we increased our wind power by a factor of 10 and generated 33 times more solar electricity. Wind energy — which provides about 10 times more electricity in America than solar thermal and solar photovoltaic sources combined — has been surging steadily since 2010, while growth in solar power has spiked in the last two years. And the best news, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is that the renewable boom is expected to continue at least through this year and next.”
And that’s not all, though I would add that a plan is in the works to build the state’s largest solar collector farm about six miles South of my home in Cottonwood, Minnesota. Good news indeed. But, wait!
“Shell Oil has abandoned plans to drill for oil in Arctic waters.”
“The Interior Department has cancelled two oil-drilling lease sales in the Arctic Ocean.”
“China has announced a cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions beginning in 2017.”
In addition, there is this exciting news item:
San Diego wants to be clean — 100 percent clean energy, to be exact — in just 20 years, under an ambitious plan unanimously passed last week by the city council. This is big news. San Diego is America’s eighth largest city, with a population of more than 1.5 million. It also has a Republican mayor, who, unlike his compatriots railing against climate action at presidential debates across the country, is making a bold plan that puts his city at the forefront of America’s clean energy future.
The plan — which got unanimous, bi-partisan support from the city council — could become a model for other cities around the country to also move to 100 percent renewables.
Already, we’ve seen that cities around the world are far ahead of national governments in taking actions toward sustainability. Whether it is banning plastic bags, setting up municipal composting systems, or shifting away from dirty coals, it is cities that paved the path for countries to make a climate accord in Paris just last week.
San Diego’s plan is ambitious but realistic. It relies on expanding the city’s vehicle fleet to 90 percent electric cars by 2035, expanding bicycles and public transit, creating more walkable neighborhoods, and better managing waste.
Let’s hope the new year brings even more good news. In the meantime, Happy Christmas to all my blogging friends!!