Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Distributed Generation and Climate Policy (No Zombies This Time)

It seems some folks didn’t care for my last post. They reserved their comments for some direct emails to me instead of using the comment button below, but hey, at least it got some people thinking about the points I raised.  I’ve been observing the efforts to get climate policy in place for years. The climate hawks and enviros seem to prefer using messaging that climate change is “scary” and that “people need to change their behavior”, and pay more through taxes, appliance upgrades, etc. In other words, they mostly spend a lot of time saying “Hey everyone, why don’t you start listening to Me!”  Meanwhile, they seem to be content to allow the renewable energy profits to be controlled by the same companies that control the energy industry now.  Not a recipe for building public support for stable renewable energy or climate policy.  It’s also not a recipe to get people thinking about acting more sustainably.  People need to get their hands on renewable technology and “take that solar array out for a spin”.  
In Iowa, that strategy has played out by allowing most of our wind energy to be owned by Warren Buffet, who hasn’t parked his coal train or shut down his coal plants. 

Conservative messaging seems focused on the cost of mitigating climate change, acknowledging climate change is occurring, but denying humans are causing it, not picking winners in energy technology, and preserving status quo.   Again, Advantage MidAmerican Energy, owned by Buffet. 

I promised no zombies in this post, so let’s look at some articles by folks who are truly using their brains to think about what we should do. 

First, does anyone see a trend here? The public seems to be more polarized and ginned up than ever, making legislative progress on this issue seem unlikely, while the renewable energy profits keep going to a lot of the same companies that are responsible for most of our co2 emissions.  Both of our political party’s seem to be doing an equally poor job of looking out for the little guy on this issue. Here’s an interesting post by R J Eskow , who thinks he knows why.   

Next, Chris Nelder seems to think that climate hawks need to change their messaging as well. Check out his post -   To change behavior around energy scarcity and climate change, focus on transitions and solutions, not danger and loss.”  Chris also had an interesting recent post titled - Obama’s new climate plan isn’t nearly enough, in which he maintains - “clamping down on emissions is the wrong strategy”. “It engenders direct resistance from the fossil fuel industry, which is firmly entrenched and prepared for that battle after decades of fighting it. Instead of trying to stuff up the tailpipe, we should focus on what fuel we put into the engine.
A third reason is that stifling emissions will not automatically create an alternate energy supply. It might just result in rising power prices and leave us struggling to maintain adequate supply while flirting with grid outages.”
And sure enough, an internet search turned up Britain turns to DR and distributed generation to solve its power woes.  It seems that countries growing reliance on wind coupled with strict carbon mandates may cause power shortages in a couple years. Distributed generation to the rescue!

Chris is a proponent of widespread ownership of renewables, using a national feed in tariff and “climate Judo” (great one Chris!) to advance renewable and climate policy.  Using your opponent’s weight against him seems to be a viable option when you read How the far right developed an unlikely interest in solar energy.  Which examines how fossil fuel companies in the state of Georgia and Australia were thwarted in their attempt to gut renewable energy policy by conservatives.   
And, finally, just to prove that you NEVER know what an internet search engine will turn up, and the fact that I’m still trying to better entertain blog visitors, here’s a link to quite a new agey post- Greed Ate Winter. - “A foundational aspect of Buddhist teaching is that suffering comes from greed, hatred, and delusion, hence the reference - our collective greed leads to excess consumption, and therefore emissions, and therefore climate change.”  
Hmmmm… It seems to me that this locally owned wind – solar- biomass idea just might help channel that “greed energy” into a more healthy care for the environment and a better sustainable and stable financial future.  It might also get us talking TO each other, instead of PAST each other.  

I put his post together pretty fast, so be gentle. However, I’ve been thinking lately of the quote   Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, attributed to Albert Einstein. 
Frankly, it’s way past high time for a new discussion of this issue.   

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