A Solar Explosion

The struggle with overreliance on traditional fuels for our energy needs is becoming ever more apparent. Political instability, depleting resources and rocketing energy costs have all negatively impacted the economy on a global scale. While narcissistic politicians huddle around cups of gourmet tea and cholesterol-filled crumpets in chilly Copenhagen to chatter about global warming, the rest of the world waits in vain.

Even as they are emitting globs of carbon dioxide gas into our atmosphere, they lecture us about energy conservation and the critical battle to save the planet from Armageddon. Worse yet, lame stream media and fame-seekers frown on us even as they shake and bake in style, while their unworthy sponsors slither about ready to make billions on false scientific data.

Meanwhile, the environmental effects of decades of dependence on dirty fossil fuels are destroying our communities. Land, air and sea alike are contaminated from the effects of the devastation, resulting in hazardous conditions and toxic landscapes on a global scale.

People are suffering as a result of air, water and soil contamination. These adverse health effects are prevalent even in the United States. Governments bloviate but ultimately do nothing to fix the problem! Simple internet searches on brownouts, air pollution, river contamination and hazardous waste landfills provide all the proof you need.

For example, a massive power outage crippled parts of the north eastern United States and eastern Canada on 14 August, 2003, leaving many vulnerable for days. It was the largest power disruption in North America, affecting national security, communications, businesses, homes and farms. Italy subsequently suffered an even larger disruption of power in 2003, while Luxembourg experienced a smaller disruption in 2004.

Total financial losses were estimated to be 6 billion US dollars, and were attributed not to global warming or natural causes, but human error and neglect. In the hot and humid summer months during that time period, the northeast experienced utility rates that spiralled out of control. At least eight fatalities were reported in North America, especially among the elderly, who could ill afford to pay the high cost of operating air conditioners.

Across the ocean in Hong Kong, the ‘fragrant harbour’ from which the city derives its name is shrouded in toxic smog, which is illuminated into an eerily glowing halo by the excessive light pollution pouring from the surrounding skyscrapers. The situation has gotten so bad in recent years that the haze has made the harbour a hazardous crossing for large vessels. The smog pours in from the sea of smokestacks in Mainland China and Hong Kong officials have long blamed those factories for the dirty air. The race to compensate for a chronic energy shortage means that the switch from coal-fired energy plants to cleaner fuel is too costly a move to make. However, environmentalists say much of the problem originates in the city as the dominant source of its own pollution slightly more than half the time. Aging buses and trucks make up about one third of the fleet, and ships and ferries in Hong Kong’s legendary harbor burn bunker fuel, which is several thousand times more polluting than the diesel generally used in Europe and North America according to environmentalists. Brownouts and managed energy cuts are common occurrences and citizens are urged to leave off their air conditioning, despite the country’s infamously sweltering heat.

Do these preventable events have any direct correlation with global warming? No! These are not isolated cases, but rather a global power shortage crisis. It is irrational for people to feel vulnerable about events that are preventable. Where are our impervious leaders?

Old Fashioned Innovation

There exist new technologies based on clean energy alternatives, but they are in need of development. Even prior to the industrial age, passive solar technologies had been in use for centuries. These should be resurrected and further adapted to current needs.

Power conservation and the protection of our natural resources can begin in the home. Insulate your attic, tint your windows and properly frame your doors. Install water-efficient showerheads and faucets. Invest in energy-saving appliances. Initiate small changes to reduce energy consumption before installing expensive solar panels over your entire roof. Done properly, these photovoltaics can result in the increased consumption of energy (but then the power is free). Solar is great, but there are an assortment of active and passive technologies that are more suitable and cost effective for specific applications.

Sometimes, engaging in simple activities to promote environmental conservation injects fresh vitality in people. It is easy to recycle plastic, paper and metal products without the need for government interference and corporate dilly-dallying.

Old Fashioned Living

In a nutshell (pun intended), let’s find ways to have fun. Planting a garden and opening a window near a big shady tree are simple ways to effectively improve air quality, lower ambient temperature and thus reduce energy consumption.

Lemonade freshly squeezed from ingredients grown in the garden is more refreshing than store-bought products. Tomatoes grown at home are tastier than the sexy ones displayed at the store. Have you ever eaten canned sweet peaches, chomped on a juicy dill pickle or brewed your own beer?

One kindly neighbour can pick extra lemons from the faithful old citrus tree in the yard and place them in a basket along the sidewalk for people to grab while another offers flavourful home-grown chilli peppers to make salsa. Don’t allow your fruits or vegetables to fall to the ground and rot unattended. Placing free biscuits and water in bowls next to a sidewalk for pets is another nice gesture.

Howdy city slickers! Learn how to grow and cultivate tea, herbs or flowers at home in small containers and start your own community swap meet. Offering hot cups of your best mint tea and slices of apple pie with a dollop of whipping cream on top – at the next student-teacher meetings would be a delightful surprise. Another splendid idea would be to sponsor a contest to see who can concoct the best mint juleps, for the entire crowd to judge. When was the last time you sat in an open food court to enjoy different food with perfect strangers?

Stores & Restaurants! Sell your trinkets, clothing, hardware and appliances on the sidewalk. Rope-off parking spaces for food areas. Sprinkle cinnamon or garlic into the air. The exciting possibilities are endless.

Give thanks, hugs and kisses! Love is in the air. Say what? Yep, too close for comfort. Just say “Thank you.”

Let us discuss ways to improve our own lives before we launch campaigns to save polar bears in the North Pole.

On the Brink of a Global Revolution

We are on the brink of a global revolution that will finally see the end of the industrial age. Avoid the fast lane and toss the time clock. A fresh and vital new lifestyle is emerging to embody all facets of our lives, but before it can happen, we must put the greedy narcissists back in their cages. It is time to bust loose!

We must address pressing issues as the demand for energy in developing regions like China and India spell unprecedented growth in the coming years. Political instability and global economic turmoil will not permit energy prices to remain low.

New technologies are emerging to make further use of clean natural gas, fuel cells and bountiful coal. Coal fired power plants provide 50% of consumed electricity in the United States. If coal is marginalized, electricity prices will soar. “Cap and Tax” is a job destroyer and just plain stupid. Generating power from alternative energy sources to support conventional energy systems is the proper course of action in the short term. Thousands of jobs will be saved and created in the process.

The long term goal should be to decentralize power generation. In essence, distribute power back to the people. Stop efforts to sustain technologies that centralize our energy needs. Stop ill-conceived plans to accommodate massive renewable energy projects. Common sense is no longer merely an option; it is an absolute necessity for our long term needs.

America is blessed with abundant resources and many hard-working people for whom ingenuity and innovation are well within reach. We are becoming increasingly sensitive to the ravaged environment, and as such, Americans should take the lead by integrating emerging technologies into its national energy policy.

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