Saturday :: Apr 21, 2007

California Curbs Per-Capita Energy Use 50% in 24 Years


by paradox

The early buzz and chatter from the Clinton, Obama and Edwards campaigns arrive with an empty clatter in my wary appraisal of anyone not Al Gore, for I perceive nothing in their platforms that embraces environmentalism and energy conservation to the degree necessary in our times.

I want this country completely independent of Middle East oil and natural gas in 15 years. It’s an absurdly easy goal to reach with vast economic, environmental and security benefits, and for the life of me I cannot understand how Democratic presidential candidates ignore energy conservation as a holy grail, forget the word “environmentalist” and call yourself a “conservationist,” you know, a word with roots we could surely share somehow, in some way, with our Republican brothers and sisters.

Americans will easily accept sweeping regulations on our domestic automobile fleet with the urgent twin goals of curbing greenhouse gasses and independence from the Middle East oil. Automobile seatbelt laws have been amazingly effective here in California (a tactic sneered at by Ralph Nader for 15 years, who pushed airbags instead), and a fact about California that should be held up as a shining model for the rest of the country: since 1973 and implementations from the California Energy Commission per-capita energy use has stayed constant, while the rest of the country horribly gorged a 50% (!) increase.

Toyota has promised a total fleet conversion to hybrids, and the day a small hybrid pickup becomes available I’m buying it, I’m sick to death of the carbon guilt from my massive F-150. I simply do not understand how in the next five years all new cars must be hybrids with a fleet efficiency increase of 25%, with another five years of research easily reaching the ten year goal of 50%, technologically this is not difficult to accomplish at all. Currently almost all our machines are ridiculous energy piggies not greenly designed, so our efficiency fruit on the American tree of life hangs very, very low.

If political and environmental benefits of conservation are deemed too abstract the direct economic benefits to citizens are tangible and impressive, especially with gas at $3.31 a gallon here. A few minutes of calculations of the many thousands of dollars energy conservation can save a household surely is a powerful force to the American consumer. Throw in some rebates and tax breaks for new appliances and insulation, what the hell, we know how to get things done in this country, right?

There’s also a base source of American citizenry goodness too often overlooked when discussing the many urgent problems we currently need to fix. When the need is urgent enough and communicated well enough Americans have very good collective effort, and people are tired of being told to go shopping while the planet warms, we rack up incredible debt and the war dead are solemnly noted on the evening news. Not hard at all to choose a vastly different approach to life with easily accomplished energy applications that help solve our problems instead of aggravating them.

The humble abode enclosing the origination of this text went green in the 2001 California electricity crisis out of a sense of collective urgency to help, yes, but mostly to prove that asshole Dick Cheney totally wrong, who came out here and said conservation is a personal virtue (those amusing, quaint adherents of little-people law-abiding real Americans) but wouldn’t do anything to solve the electricity crisis.

Of course Californians then went out and gave the felon the finger with a permanent 15% electricity gain in just one year while he still managed to keep his energy meetings secret. Even with the powerfully rich capitalists and crooked politicians lined up against them Californians still went out and kicked energy ass, it can be done, the country can do this.

We already had double-paned windows with stove’n water on natural gas, but all the lights were converted to fluorescent, ceiling and walls insulated, front door replaced (.25 cracks whistled the air in), and refrigerator replaced. A new much more efficient outdoor watering system was installed and the shower head put on medium flow. The bills go way down and folks feel better for helping, it’s a beautiful thing in our turbulent world.

Unfortunately there’s absurd gasoline hogs parked out front, and although I’ll immediately convert the truck I’m hanging on to my four-banger v-tech Civic, it’s paid for (so is the truck, I’ll take the not-insignificant hit for the cause). When both are converted I’ll have my 25% gasoline efficiency gain, at least, sometime in the five years, not a problem.

It’s why citizens like me are still waiting for Al Gore, who has truly lead on energy solutions that work for the people of this country, not the energy companies. Anyone running for President should see the obvious potential in energy conservation politics, and if one made it a total priority like Al Gore would they’d get my vote, time and treasure.

Thank you very much, Jane Kay, San Francisco Chronicle

paradox :: 6:47 AM :: Comments (23) :: Digg It!