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Solutions & sustainability - June 27

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Simple life. Small footprint (profile of bio-regionalist Stephanie Mills)

Chris Olson, Leelanau Enterprise
Many county residents would put the natural beauty of Leelanau at the top of the list of reasons why they live here.

Stephanie Mills is one of the those residents, but she’s not one to sit around and hope things don't change.

Mills is an advocate for living simply, in harmony with one’s surroundings. Her 2002 book Epicurian Simplicity is a guide, manifesto and diary all wrapped into one book about living close to the land and in harmony with nature. She has written six books, and the latest is Tough Little Beauties, a selection of essays and other writings published by Ice Cube Press in North Liberty, Iowa.

Mills said people need to understand just how limited some of the resources are on the planet, and that many of the impacts humans have had on the environment may not be reversible. She recently attended a “sustainability” conference in Grand Rapids, where the current social problem of high gas prices was discussed. She said many people in the environmental movement believe we are in the peak oil period, meaning we have reached the peak of oil supply and it is only going to go down.

“I’m starting to hear the term ‘relocalization’ a lot. People are going to have to start relying on those who live around them more, rather than commute to another community because the cost of fuel is so high. We are fortunate to live in an area like Leelanau County where people still know how to build and make things,” she said.

She has eked out a living by combining two of her passions: writing and being an advocate for the environment.
(23 June 2008)
Stephanie Mills wrote Fun while it lasted for Energy Bulletin.




How to cut your fuel bills 80% or more

Phil Wainewright, ZDNet
The soaring cost of gasoline, petrol and diesel fuel has led to crippling travel costs for many small businesses, hitting enterprises as diverse as rock bands, truckers and police forces. A few exceptions, though, have found a way to slash their fuel bills even while prices shoot skywards, by using Web technology to reduce the number of site visits they have to make.

A forecourt fuel pumpSoftware consultancy TG Allison, for example, which helps dairy farmers in rural Wales maximize their milk yields, has cut average weekly mileage by its employees from 200 down to 40 miles - an 80% drop - at the same time as increasing productivity and customer satisfaction. Instead of spending hours driving out to a client’s farm whenever something goes wrong, the company’s staff now use an Internet link to connect to the farm’s computers and resolve the problem, often within minutes
(23 June 2008)



Introducing a new currency

Kyle Schuant, green with a gun ("permaculture, democracy, and a future for the world")

Introducing a new currency

I have decided to create a new currency, the Carbon. You can spend it and earn it, but cannot exchange it between people, because it's a transaction between you and the Earth. The symbol for the carbon currency is ¢. In earlier times, currencies were physical commodities, or their value was tied to them. For example, the British Pound was called a "pound" because it was set as equivalent to a pound of silver, and around an ounce of gold. This made it easy to know what you could get for a pound, and what it was really worth. So I have set, and ¢1.00 is 1.00kg of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse terms. 1kg methane, for example is worth about ¢23, since it has a greater effect on the climate than does carbon dioxide.

Climate change, our bankruptcy

The reason to express it as a currency is that with money we have a simple idea which everyone can grasp: you cannot spend more than you earn. If you get into debt and can never pay it back, you're in trouble. Likewise, if we emit more greenhouse gases than the Earth can absorb, we get into trouble; if we spend more Carbons than we earn, we get into debt. Some people find it difficult to grasp the idea of climate change because, they say, the pollutants we humans produce are so small compared to the whole system, how can they have an effect? Well, imagine that in a town of 1,000 people every single household spent just a few percent more than they earned - every year for a century. That town would be in trouble, right?

We have been spending more than we earn. When you do that with money eventually you get declared bankrupt and the court writes off your debts. That's possible with debts in dollars, but not debts in Carbons Instead of bankruptcy we get climate change. The debt just grows and makes our lives more miserable and difficult. Our spending is greater than our income.

Carbon incomes

But what is our "income" with Carbons? As I see it, our income is the amount we can emit without causing global warming, according to the scenarios in the IPCC 2007 report.
(26 June 2008)



Fred Fletcher at Burbank Water & Power talks about smart grids, WiFi, renewables, and storing cold as ice

Marc Strassman, Etopia News
Fred Fletcher talks about how the City of Burbank, California, is moving rapidly ahead of the pack with plans to implement a smart grid, using fiber optic and WiFi, to facilitate peak load management and the integration of renewables, including renewable cold from stored ice made with excess electricity
(26 June 2008)

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