Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Walking the Talk

I asked a friend who is 21 what he thought needed to be done, and we agreed on a few very important things:

A. We need to curb wanton consumerism
B. We need to feed the desperately poor
C. We need to decentralize government, limiting it to the state level of maximum oversight.
D. Energy needs to be made and distributed locally.

I thought to myself "Man O Maneschevitz!" how can it be that I beat my head nearly everyday on what needs to be done with the world to make it a place where we all can live relatively peacefully, and this guy comes up with these gems in a short evening?

Tie it together with some obvious stuff like making sure we don't blow ourselves up with nukes, and the idea of making sure fresh water is equally distributed, and you have yourself a pretty good start to World Peace.

Decentralizing government is a pretty excellent leap that I hadn't made very directly until just now. National government is an increasingly untenable idea. Each state in the USA is already a government nearly in total for its citizens. Obviously, we need to move freely between states, those states can't take up arms against each other, and we have to have an agreeable set of laws that work for as many states as possible, but I think we can pretty much get by without the mammoth Federal Government As It Is.

Feeding the desperately poor is a huge task, and it must be taken up directly by the richest nations. It's how we will remove the attractive forces of lawlessness and pillage-style governance. If the poorest are fed, you pretty much have a population that is a great deal less likely to kill its own members or neighboring areas.

Making power locally must happen in conjunction with all of the above. Either solar, wind, or eco-friendlier combustion to begin with must be accessible by huge numbers of communities. Community-generated and distributed power will go a long way to reducing warfare on a global scale.

The WORK for me ends up at point B: The creating of a system by which local communities can assess their real energy uses and drains, then install their own energy generation systems and distribute their own power to themselves in a safe, low-carbon, low-emission, low-waste way.

Point A is where I am right now: I am right now using only two incandescent bulbs in our house which contains around 50 bulbs. The rest are compact fluourescent bulbs. We have Energy Star appliances: Refrigerator, Washer/Dryer, Dishwasher, high-efficiency Gas Furnace. We got rid of our TV, DVD player and VCR in favor of a 23 inch all-in-one LCD computer.

We installed a new recyclable PVC roof with an R19 insulation value. We put UV blocking skylights and covers for our porches. We installed a 20-tube solar hot water system on our roof. We drive a biodiesel in our 2004 TDI Jetta and our 1984 Mercedes 300TD Wagon. I often commute to work on my electric assist bike.
We have a deposit down on a 3.5 KW solar electric array for the roof.

We have solar path lighting. We have a lot of windows so we rarely need to use lights in the daytime. We have no air-conditioning, but our single operable skylight in the study has made a huge difference in summer months' cooling.

I am trying really hard to walk my talk. I sell biodiesel-ready VW diesels for a living. I fully plan on pushing the boundaries of what can be sanely done in terms of local energy production and use in the city. Urban Greening is something that needs to be pursued vigorously, and I am starting with myself and my own family's energy and working outward.

Much more work is yet to be done. Stay tuned.

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