Happy Christmas!

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!!

 

Green Jobs

The current Sierra magazine has some interesting and encouraging information that should allow us to bury the myth about how pursuing clean energy will cost the country jobs and how we should continue to support dirty energy “where the jobs are.” Bollocks! Let me quote a part of the brief article directly. (If you want detailed information about the study referred to you can go to this link: rael.berkley.edu/greenjobs.)

“For years the dirty energy industry has warned of massive job losses if the nation switches to clean energy. It’s dead wrong. Max Wei, Shana Patadia, and Daniel Kammen of the University of California at Berkley reviewed 15 recent studies of the job-creation potential of various energy sources and found that renewables generate more jobs per unit of energy delivered than do fossil fuels.”

The article then gives a chart showing the comparisons between the clean energy industries and the dirty energy industries that is quite striking. It reveals that the clean energy industries create 62.74 jobs per megawatt of energy produced as contrasted with the dirty energy industry that only produce 25.7 jobs per megawatt. The contrast is remarkable; clean energy is led by the solar photovoltaic industry which produces 32.71 jobs per megawatt — more than the dirty energy industry taken all together. The jobs in both categories are in construction, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

The “clean” energy industries include not only solar photovoltaic but “concentrating solar,” wind, and geothermal. The “dirty” energy industries studied include nuclear, coal, and natural gas. It should be noted that the latter three industries are currently being touted by politicians and the industry itself as “cleaner” than ever because coal has become “clean,” which is not strictly true; nuclear is touted as clean because it doesn’t produce heat — while it produces toxic waste that cannot be disposed of safely and always poses the threat of a meltdown; and natural gas is regarded as clean despite the fact that it is now obtained by “fracking,” a process that uses thousands of gallons of precious water which becomes contaminated and cannot be purified and reused afterwards. So, despite the attempts to pull the wool over out eyes, the word “dirty” is indeed appropriate when applied to these industries.

The fact that the Republicans are nearly united in their opposition to clean energy can only be accounted for by the fact that Big Oil makes such huge profits they can afford to dole out the big bucks to curry political favors, whereas the clean energy industry does not. But I do think that despite the likes of the Koch brothers and their friends clean energy will become the main source of energy in the future in this country and one must wonder when the oil and gas companies will climb aboard. Surely they see the handwriting on the wall?

In any event, let us have a moment of silence in memory of another dead myth. After that moment has passed we can spend another moment wishing like hell that the Congress will get its act together sooner rather than later and throw its support behind a collection of industries that have this sort of job potential. Talk about helping the economy — and the earth at the same time!