Nothing is more important to the human spirit than freedom. People sacrifice their lives so that others may experience it. As we celebrate our country’s independence this weekend, friends and family will gather for barbeques and many homes will display the flag. In addition to displaying a symbol of our patriotism, our homes and businesses represent a vital opportunity that, if we choose to take action, can do more to strengthen and enhance our freedom than almost anything else.
We’re all well aware of the important role energy plays in our lives, but in a very real sense we’ve become slaves to it as well. Our economy suffers if energy is too scarce or expensive and since most of the energy we currently use is non-renewable it is becoming, you guessed it, scarce and expensive. Everything in our society depends on it and most comes from distant sources, almost like the colonists initially depended on a distant king. It took a revolution before they could take control of their own destiny and create their own economy.
“Unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground. If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”
-U.S. climatologist Jim Hansen
There is a revolution going on right now that homeowners across the country are engaged in. They are declaring their independence from high utility bills and severing the bonds of the indentured servitude of climate change. Ok, my analogy might be getting a bit dramatic, but you get the idea. I tend to get passionate about this stuff because the potential benefits are so powerful.
Let’s look at a few related issues that are unfolding right now. If you only watch the mainstream media you might not have heard that this year’s Artic ice pack is on track to be the smallest ever observed. Maybe you didn’t hear about new reports revealing that many ocean species are in danger of complete collapse and the rapid rate of change shocked the scientists doing the study. I’m sure you’ve seen the unprecedented wildfires in the south and west, along with the record floods seemingly everywhere else. We all mourned the effects of this year’s massive swarms of killer tornadoes. Poison continues to leak from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant and now we’re learning that many nuclear plants in the U.S. are also leaking and pose similar hazards.
Oil is becoming increasingly scarce. We’re having to go deeper underground, farther offshore and into riskier, dirtier and less-rewarding deposits like oil sands, just to maintain production. Canadian oil sands operations are already destroying vast tracts of pristine boreal forests. The oil extraction process is so energy intensive, using natural gas to literally cook the oil out of the sand, that the net energy gain is extremely low. They’re burning natural gas to create gas for cars, but at a huge environmental cost that includes immense lakes of toxic black-brown goo held back by dams made of sand that are now the largest man-made structures on the planet. Top U.S. climatologist Jim Hansen has emphatically stated that “unconventional fossil fuels, such as tar sands, must be left in the ground.” In terms of reducing greenhouse gasses to prevent runaway global change he added, “if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over.”
There are other issues too. The first part of this video has some unforgettable footage of the destruction and shows how some of these activities could impact the U.S.
These are signs of Koyanisquatsi – a Hopi word that roughly translates to “life out of balance” or “a state of life that calls for another way of living.” In other words, global change is happening now and it’s happening much faster than normal, much of it due to the choices we continue to make. This is why we need clean and healthy energy independence. It has truly become a matter of personal, national and global security.
Now here are a few more things worth mentioning: The world’s largest rooftop solar project, dubbed Project Amp, will produce 733 megawatts from photovoltaic panels on commercial buildings across 28 states while creating an estimated 10,000 jobs. Google is investing heavily in renewable energy systems. Gainesville, Florida has become the first city in the U.S. to implement a solar feed-in-tariff that will drive investment in renewable energy. They are on track to meet or exceed their Kyoto Protocol targets by 2013. Innovations like new quantum-efficiency measurements for solar cells, developed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, continue to push renewable energy prices down while improving performance. New battery designs are on the verge of revolutionizing energy storage for the grid and for electric vehicles. These are but a few of the examples that the revolution is underway.
Here in Nevada you can visit CleanEnergyProjectNV.org to find out how you can join the fight for energy independence. Be sure to check out their Home Energy Efficiency Tips section, it’s very well done. To actually get it done, contact HomeFreeNevada.org. Their program provides all the resources you’ll need to help you declare your independence by reducing or eliminating your utility bills. There are even financing options that can cover the costs with the energy you’ll save.
Declare your independence! Let freedom ring! There’s no better way to nurture the human spirit.