Thursday, March 1, 2012

The clean energy argument you've been missing; search for urban ag projects

When environmentalists learn about the horrible health and environmental consequences of fracking for natural gas, they're instantly convinced against it. The majority of us who get their news from the mainstream media hears a very different story - optimistic claims of enough natural gas for a hundred years. The pollution arguments don't automatically work on non-environmentalists, who are happy to hear that our future energy supply is assured. But it's not, and people need to know. At the ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil) [] conference in November I encouraged Kurt Cobb, one of the regular columnists at ASPO and Energy Bulletin [], to write an article setting out the underused argument against fracking - there's simply not enough of it, and we invest in renewable power instead. He did, and it's been published in the Sierra Club New York State newsletter and a number of other sites. See the summary below.

In turn, Kurt suggested that I write an article about how the transition to a renewable energy economy is now being blocked by the 1%. I did, and it was republished in Energy Bulletin. [ ]

To help spread this message in various environmental communities and Occupy Wall Street working groups, I'm collecting projects that embody this message, but are less theoretical, and appeal to people's self interest.

What are your recommendations of urban agriculture or sustainability projects that can help build the renewable energy economy, and are relatively inexpensive and simple to start? I found several at the Just Food conference, and pitched the concept at the OWS Forum on the Commons on 2/17. Here's the video.

I'll compile a bunch of projects that express these themes, and present them in a workshop at the Brooklyn Food Conference in May. My next presentation is at the NYC Friends of Clearwater on 3/16.


The clean energy argument you've been missing
by Kurt Cobb

Environmentalists concerned about fracking, coal, and climate change need all the ammunition they can get when advocating for clean, renewable energy. That's why I'm forwarding this piece to you because it explains a powerful argument that should be incorporated into the case for a rapid transition to renewable energy.

Please take a few minutes to read it. The piece can be freely reprinted and reposted, so I'm hoping you'll suggest it for any listserv, website, newsletter or other publication with which you are involved. And, I'm hoping you'll forward it widely to friends and colleagues who share your concerns and suggest that they get the piece reprinted and reposted wherever possible.

Question: What key argument are those concerned about fracking, coal, climate change and renewable energy missing?

Answer: Constrained fossil fuel supplies mean there is no fossil fuel "bridge" to renewable energy, not natural gas, not coal, and certainly not oil.

Summary: Some environmentalists speak of natural gas as a clean "bridge fuel" that will buy time for a transition to a renewable energy society. And, industry claims of abundant gas appear to support the idea. But the actual data on natural gas as well as that on coal and oil suggest that no fossil fuel will continue to see its rate of production climb significantly in the decades ahead, and so none of them is a viable "bridge fuel." This means that global society must leap over fossil fuels and move directly to renewables as quickly as possible.

To find out more read: Fossil Fuels vs. Renewables: The Key Argument that Environmentalists are Missing.

Kurt Cobb blogs at Resource Insights, and is the author of Prelude, a novel about peak oil.  He was interviewed this week about high oil prices on the cable news show Crosstalk.


Occupy sustainability: the 1% are blocking the transition
to a renewable energy economy

A sustainable world that works for the 99% is possible, if we can respond to climate change, economic injustice and resource depletion at the same time. The transition to a renewable energy economy can be a valuable frame for that discussion. Just as the financial elites brought about the economic crisis, they are blocking the renewable energy transition to reap more profit from their fossil fuel investments. Because of fuel depletion as well as climate change, further delay may prevent a successful transition. Social justice and sustainability advocates can blow the whistle on the 1% for this issue too, and collaborate to speed up the transition locally.

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