It’s the great taboo, I hear many environmentalists say. Population growth is the driving force behind our wrecking of the planet, but we are afraid to discuss it.
It sounds like a no-brainer. More people must inevitably be bad for the environment, taking more resources and causing more pollution, driving the planet ever farther beyond its carrying capacity. But hold on. This is a terribly convenient argument — “over-consumers” in rich countries can blame “over-breeders” in distant lands for the state of the planet. But what are the facts?
From treehugger.com on February 20, 2009, retrieved on 3/6/09:
The stimulus bill has finally been passed and signed into law—and now it’s time to help put the thing into action. Which shouldn’t be tough to do: tucked into the thousands of pages of confounding language, there are tons of fantastic new tax credits you can get simply for buying great green stuff. Here’s what our government’s blowout sale’s got in the catalog.
From the New York Times on Wednesday, March 18, 2009:
Solar cells adorn the roofs of many homes and warehouses across Germany, while the bright white blades of wind turbines are a frequent sight against the sky in Spain.
If one day these machines become as common on the plains and rooftops of the United States as they are abroad, it may be because the financing technique that gave Europe an early lead in renewable energy is starting to cross the Atlantic.
Put simply, the idea is to pay homeowners and businesses top dollar for producing green energy.
From the Washington Post, retrieved on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, read this interesting graphic to compare the manufacture of paper and plastic bags. You already know what you can do instead, but did you know that manufacturing paper bags take more resources, and leave more toxic waste, than plastic?
From the Washington Post on Tuesday, March 10, 2009:
One gizmo allows you to run the dishwasher when electricity is cheapest. Another decides when to fire up the water heater if you plan on a 6 a.m. shower. Another routes solar energy from a rooftop panel to a battery in your garage and the wiring in your house.
Outside, towers equipped with sensors tell the electric company exactly where a storm has knocked out power. The power grid itself can react to trouble, rerouting juice from a healthy part of the system or isolating itself to prevent a larger meltdown.
From the New York Times on Tuesday, March 10, 2009:
Although home energy tracking devices like the single-outlet Kill A Watt or the whole-house Power2Save unit are gaining popularity in this energy-conscious age, I hadn’t tried one out until my electric bill topped out at $150 in January. That prompted me to invest in an Energy Detective, a device that retails for $145 and promises to give homeowners a telling glimpse into their personal energy consumption habits — and the appliances that consume the most juice.
From the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, posted on 2/18/09, retrieved on Friday, March 6, 2009:
President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 17, and the tax section of the act provides greater tax credits for clean energy projects at homes and businesses and for the manufacturers of clean energy technologies. For homeowners, the act increases a 10% tax credit for energy efficiency improvements to a 30% tax credit, eliminates caps for specific improvements (such as windows and furnaces), and instead establishes an aggregate cap of $1,500 for all improvements placed in service in 2009 and 2010 (except biomass systems, which must be placed in service after the act is enacted). The act also tightens the energy efficiency requirements to meet current standards. For residential renewable energy systems, the act removes all caps on the tax credits, which equal 30% of the cost of qualified solar energy systems, geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines, and fuel cell systems. The act also eliminates a reduction in credits for installations with subsidized financing.
Click here to read the whole posting, and to link to additional Federal documents.
BY Adam Wasch, Energy Outreach Consultant for CCHRC and UAF CES
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner March 5th, 2009, Section A3
Sometimes, I worry that the U.S. economy is in trouble because our gross national product is almost entirely comprised of web pages. I’d contribute by adding my own personal web page, but I’m afraid my lack of substance could trigger a full-blown depression. Some websites are pretty nifty, though. Like the one by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program. Continue reading →
From the New York Times on Wednesday, February 25, 2009:
The money in the bill is enough to pay for a tremendous expansion of efficiency efforts across the country. But as with other parts of the stimulus package, the efficiency plan is creating tension between spending the money quickly, to get rapid economic stimulus, and spending it well, to do the most good over the long run.
“There’s enormous opportunity here for expansion of energy efficiency in this country,” said Lowell Ungar, the policy director for the Alliance to Save Energy, an advocacy group. “But there is certainly the potential for waste.”
President Obama signed the stimulus package into law on Feb. 17, hailing it as a shot of money big enough to help shake the economy from its lethargy while advancing many of his campaign priorities. Accelerating the country’s energy transition is at the top of his list. Many experts in the field agree with him that carefully chosen investments in efficiency will ultimately save more than they cost, by cutting energy bills.
From the Washington Post on Sunday, February 15, 2009:
I’m in the corner of our family room, by the TV, looking to take a first baby step toward making my houshold greener. …
The easiest step of all would be to sit back and let the Obama administration solve global warming, along with all the other crises that face the new president; to wait while the clean-coal and there’s-no-such-thing-as-clean-coal forces hammer out a compromise; to listen as the experts decide whether the way to curb our national addiction to fossil fuels lies in biofuels or more hybrid cars or new rail lines, and then buy whatever new technologies the engineers come up with.