Having our city designated as a green community doesn’t make us “green”.
Slapping some solar panels on roofs or hoisting up a wind turbine doesn’t make us “green” either.
WE BECOME A GREEN COMMUNITY WHEN OUR LIFE STYLE IS GREEN.
The goal is to produce a zero sum energy community. The amount of energy produced by the community is satisfied by an amount of energy produced locally.
And of course, we are a very long way from that goal.
This idea at one time was very old fashioned – it was called the Yankee practice of self reliance. Which of course makes me laugh when the environmentalists demand conservation and applaud the hanging out of laundry on a clothes line as if it was some new green initiative.
There was a time anyone who put out their clothes on a line was considered uncouth and a country bumpkin. No self-respecting elitist community would allow such things in their neighborhoods and many “sophisticated” liberal communities who forbade such practices are now quickly dropping those local ordinances.
How times change! Now all those thrifty Newbury farmers who often smelled of dirt and manure who used what they had and never threw out anything have found out they’ve been in the vogue all along!
Last night, the primary goal of the Clean Energy Future meeting was to find out how that zero sum energy can be attained.
Turns out just like the clothes lines and old Yankee farmers; the same old challenges are still with us.
EDUCATION. How do you educate a populace that drives everywhere, leaves all the lights on in their homes and constantly buys quickly disposable (and they do) petroleum-based products to change their rabid-consumer lifestyle? A lifestyle I might add that still demands products to be the latest “new” thing.
ENERGY. Most of the city gets its energy from utilities that generate outside of the city. If every roof eligible for solar panels was included in energy expenditure, we would literally reduce our dependence on outside energy by 2/3rds! But even then, the future is in self-generating sources. That means adding expensive batteries so that the electricity doesn’t go back in to the grid but never leaves the property! And the heat so necessary in winter means the installation of elaborate solar heating systems or thermal-ground systems. Who is going to pay for all that? And will we actually get a return from all the money spent? These are tough issues to tackle. And of course, the hardest thing of all; to get people to stop wasting energy and to conserve it.
WALKABILITY. If we are to reduce our energy consumption, why are our sidewalks either non-existent or if there, still treacherous, and often abandoned so that pedestrians have to take their own lives in their hands by walking in the street? Why are the roads the primary expenditure and bike paths, sidewalks and other forms of transportation an after thought or ridiculed?
LANDFILLS. Our city, thanks to past and present mayors and our present Molly Ettenborough’s efforts; make us a leader in the region if not the state in recycling and general trash reduction taking the pressure off landfills. And yet, our city has turned its back on extending the demolition delay and on historic preservation that would reduce the dumpsters and destruction of existing buildings? We are literally being attacked by a driving thirst for new interiors in old buildings and even total replacement of highly durable ancient structures with new buildings and construction products that are designed to be replaced in as little a time as 15 to 25 years?
All last nights ideas are going to be countermanded as long as the general populous won’t change their lifestyle.
Who do we have to reach? Those same people who throw their Orangeleaf cups on the ground or drop Starbucks Coffee cups on a pristine nature trail or leave filled pet waste bags on public ways.
The future I see is not one of ease and hope! To attain the zero-sum goal is going to require tons of education, lots of expensive equipment and promotion, buckets full of volunteers and a determined resolve by the community to not only persuade but to mandate.
And the average person out there is going to resist or even rebel and believe me, though the end result may benefit everyone; there will be a lot of blow-back in the meantime.
If the community wants to achieve the goal of a zero sum energy community; it is going to take determination for it’s going to take a long time.
PS. I saw some last night show up who fought against the demolition delay and the LHD and who applaud “new” buildings; I saw others who want to demolish our existing historical homes – why were they there? Hoping to cash in on all that green paint? Hoping to make money off of the “green” movement? I wonder. I doubt they were in a repentant mood.