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Across the globe, from New Zealand to Canada to Great Britain, Communities just like ours are beginning to take responsibility for the energy they use, the goods they consume, and the food they eat. They are going Green
The TV, radio and newspapers are awash with messages and advertisements for “green” or “all natural” products and practices. Politicians and Celebrities tout the urgent need for a fast switch toward eco consciousness. But how did we get here?
1962 - Rachel Carson releases the book “Silent Spring”, which reveals the true cost of pesticides in our atmosphere, water and food. This leads to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency
1960s - nuclear proliferation, and photos of Earth from space increase awareness/concern for our technological advancements having detrimental global effects.
April 22, 1970 - First Earth Day. To many, this marks the beginning of the modern environmental movement.
1972 - first United Nations conference on the Human Environment is held in Stockholm.
Since the 1970s, public awareness, the environmental sciences, and ecology have advanced to include a modern focus on ozone depletion, acid rain, saving the rainforests, climate change, GMOs, carbon dioxide, and energy production.
If this is you’re first time hearing that we have environmental problems to work on, then welcome to the conversation. With the most recent research and data, we can begin to clearly coalesce and identify Three (3) distinct crises barreling our way. Each of them on their own are daunting, and require immediate action. Put together, they will pose the greatest challenge that this generation has ever faced.
Climate change has been scientifically linked to the amount of carbon released into the earths upper atmosphere.
The main source of this carbon stems from humans burning mass quantities of fossil fuels for energy, primarily petroleum and coal.
Climate change is happening faster than most models can keep up with.
Aside from what we know about global warming, we have experienced annual increases in tornadoes, hurricanes, engulfing fires, deaths due to heat waves, and other devastating meteorological phenomenon.
Many say if it isn’t scary, then you havn’t understood it.
It is a massive problem . But the worst effects can still be avoided if we collectively engage the issue.
“ We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions.” —James Hansen Director Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA
We are very close, if not already passed, extracting half of the total oil reserves in the world.
The peak is the point when further expansion of oil production becomes impossible because it is offset by production declines.
The first half of oil retrieved was the easiest and highest quality to retrieve from the ground. It will begin to cost more and more to physically produce a barrel of oil, relying on more energy intensive and environmentally destructive methods (mountain top removal??)
Quite simply, when it takes more than a barrel of oil to extract a barrel of oil, production will come screeching to a halt.
Would you pay 102 dollars for 100 dollars in return?
Simply put, our modern industrialized economy is completely dependant on massive quantities of cheap fossil fuels, primarily petroleum.
When the cost of oil goes up, as is predicted, the cost of living on earth goes up. Unfortunately, the demand for oil is only increasing. We are competing for the remaining oil on earth with new consumer superpowers like India and China.
Many forecast models show that supply will not meet demand.
“ The world has never faced a problem like this. Without massive mitigation… the problem will be pervasive and will not be temporary. Previous energy transitions were gradual and evolutionary. Oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary.” The Hirsch Report U.S. Department of Energy February 2005
The US housing market crash combined with years of deregulation expose the global stock market as the house of cards that it is. Financial firms spent years making huge gambles. Billions upon Billions are lost. Banks, lenders, and other financial institutions once thought “unsinkable” must be either bailed out by taxpayer money, or left to go bankrupt. Millions upon millions lose their jobs and homes.
“ The second half of the Age of Oil now dawns and will be marked by the decline of oil and all that depends on it, including financial capital. It heralds the collapse of the present financial system, and the related political structures… I am speaking of a second Great Depression.”
“ The Long Emergency is an opportunity to pause, to think through our present course, and to adjust to a saner path for the future. We had best face facts: we really have no choice. The Long Emergency is a horrible predicament. It is also a wonderful opportunity to do a lot better. Let’s not squander this moment.”
— Albert Bates The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook
“ Inherent within the challenges of peak oil and climate change is an extraordinary opportunity to reinvent, rethink and rebuild the world around us.” — Rob Hopkins The Transition Handbook
Resilient Communities are self-reliant for the greatest possible number of their needs. They will be infinitely better prepared than those who are dependent on globalized systems of food, energy, transportation, health and housing.
“ I believe that a lower-energy, more localized future, in which we move from being consumers to being producer/consumers, where food, energy and other essentials are locally produced, local economies are strengthened and we have learned to live more within our means is a step towards something extraordinary, not a step away from something inherently irreplaceable.”
Energy conservation is the practice of using less energy. As citizens aware of how our actions affect not only our communities, but the planet, we must acknowledge that we are the only ones that can enact the changes we wish to see. As Americans, we need to use less energy.
“ It takes a lot of cheap energy to maintain the levels of social inequality we see today, the levels of obesity, the record levels of indebtedness, the high levels of car use and alienating urban landscapes. Only a culture awash with cheap oil could become de-skilled on the monumental scale we have.” — Rob Hopkins The Transition Handbook
A home is one of the largest contributors to the average Americans carbon footprint. Think about everything in your home that needs electricity. Too many to count. A home energy audit will tell you where your home is needlessly losing money, through heating/cooling or electrical waste. The best thing about a home energy audit is that they teach you how the systems of your home work, and how you can immediately begin saving money, and reducing your carbon footprint.
With the new stimulus bill, we will see a MASS influx of inexpensive home energy audits. This is designed to cut a huge chunk from our national carbon footprint. They are cheap and effective. Most utility providers offer rebates. DTE included. An energy audit should not cost you more than 100 dollars. Depending on your energy usage, you could potentially earn that back in two months, and then save hundreds more dollars per year. Another plus is that Energy Audits get you thinking about the big energy picture, and get you involved.
(Did I mention they save you money?)
“I’ve had my Energy Audit, and I’m ready to invest more into reducing my Carbon Footprint…”
Do a bit of research, and you’ll find that solar power is your best bet for alternative energy in Burns Park. Although small scale residential wind turbines are improving, Our community has far too much tree cover for wind power to be viable. So let’s focus on solar……..
If you are seriously considering a solar install, you need to have your roof or site evaluated. The city of Ann Arbor and UofM conducted a solar rooftop survey, and you can begin this process online. All you have to do is go to the city’s website, enter your address, and click “calculate my solar potential”
It is a fantastic resource, and a great first step.
Food and agriculture are responsible for one third of the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that we create. Food travels on average 1500 miles from “field to fork" , and spends 7-14 days in transit. The Food Facts
The state of Michigan now has an official Michigan Green School Law, which encourages all public and private schools to participate in easy to administer energy saving and environmental activities in a suggested plan with 25 choices. Any school that achieves 10 of these points in an academic year will receive an official Michigan Green School Designation.
Burns Park can begin to choose and implement the green projects that make the most sense for our children’s education and future. We need parents and community members to step up and take the lead with our teachers.
1. The school recycles paper and reuses its magazines and newspapers 2 . The school has adopted an endangered species animal from one of several organizations that offer adoption. List of agencies will be provided. 3 . The school media center updates its ecological and environmental materials regularly. 4. The school has a composting project with daily scraps from the cafeteria. 5 . The school hosts a visit by an ecological spokesperson, such as a representative of the Sierra Club, an endangered animal show, Home Depot energy saving demonstration, etc. 6 . The school has a birdhouse habitat project. 7 . The school has a native Michigan plant garden project with native plants. 8. The school has a solar power presentation or experiments such as a solar cookout. A wind project may be substituted. 9. Classes do energy audits of their classrooms and make improvements such as placing film on windows, caulking windows, using kits to make windows more energy efficient, putting up turn it off signs under light switches, delamping, etc. 10. The school has a printer cartridge and cell phone recycling program and selects a cartridge recycling company which pays school for the cartridges. List of companies available.
11. The school recycles batteries and has designated a representative to take them to an appropriate county recycling program. 12. The school teaches units on alternative fuels energy including ethanol, switch grass, and soy. 13 . The school observes Earth Day. 14 . Art classes at the school hold a poster contest to support ecology concerns and a school display in conjunction with Earth Day Activities (April 22). 15 . Some school science classes have an assignment to take do several home energy improvements such as turning down hot water heaters, installing home window insulation kits, clean coils on home refrigerators and put in draft guards 16 . The school has an ecology club whose activities include such suggested activities as helping senior citizens make their homes more energy efficient, putting in new furnace filters, caulking windows, cleaning refrigerator coils and setting water heaters a little lower. They could sponsor an endangered species, any environmental and energy savings activities the group decides to do. 17 . The school ﾕ s classes visit Internet sites where clicking saves rainforest habitat. These are totally free sites sponsored by corporations. Ecologyfund.com and the Rainforest site are examples. 18. The school implements a tree planting program with at least ten seedlings which can be acquired free from a number of organizations including Michigan United Conservation Club. The trees are placed at north and west building exposures to help conserve energy. 19 . The school has established a recycling program for CDs and DVD ﾕ s . It is estimated 10 billion of these will go into landfills over the next five years. 20 . The school has a study unit on environmental health and issues facing The Great Lakes or participates in one of the many programs to help maintain the quality of The Great Lakes. The name of the program participated needs to be mentioned in the application form. See attachment on this point. . 21 . The school initiates a school door draft guard project. These are easy to make Michigan Green School Commission has a project sheet available. These are placed at exterior classroom doors and or are sold at school events to help educate the public of this easy energy saving device. 22. A unit on invasive species in the Midwest is presented. Solutions that ordinary citizens can participate in are implemented. 23. Students hold a letter writing campaign to local officials about an environmental issue such as suggesting a compact fluorescent bulb law, fuel emissions improvements. Wonderful exercise to promote critical thinking on ways to help the environment and then taking political action. 24. School raises one hundred dollars to go to a fund for all participating Green Schools. Each year land will be bought and donated to a Michigan state park or state forest such as Hartwick Pines. 25. The school keeps an active bulletin board or display case on the environmental news and what environmental activities the school is working on with pictures.
Thank You For more information, to receive a copy of This presentation, or for a list of web links Discussed throughout, please sign the Email list going around the room. Or contact me personally: [email_address]