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Powerful Change in a Small Package

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I wrote last week about Utah-based Goal Zero's efforts to bring solar power chargers to victims of Hurricane Sandy, giving folks the ability to run essential appliances and lights as they wait for utility companies to rebuild a vast and vulnerable electricity grid.  The company has a "one for one" relief effort.  For every solar device purchased through its online store or participating retailers (including Amazon), they will donate a kit to Sandy relief victims.  As of late last week, the company had already lined up about 2,500 donated kits for victims of Sandy.

The Goal Zero products range in size -- from units that can charge cell phones, to larger kits that can keep a refrigerator running -- but the impact is always powerful.  For people that are without electricity, being able to count on a sustainable light supply can make a world of difference. Obviously solar charging kits are not going to replace the grid, but I hope they turn out to be a gateway drug …

Disentangling Urgency from Foolishness: Exposing the Climate-Terror Paradigm

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After 11 September 2001 the country recognized an urgent threat to its security.  The debate prompted by this tragic event is still relevant even after three Presidential elections and eleven years -- how much of our civil liberty do we sacrifice to mitigate this threat?  Military tribunals, library records, torture, and transparency.  We are still questioning compromises of justice and privacy for the end state of security.  This debate will last for centuries, much like the threat.
"Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."  - Benjamin Franklin Are we making a foolish sacrifice to mitigate the threat of climate change? Rising seas, extreme and destructive weather patterns, lives lost, property destroyed, and degraded ecosystems.  Climate change is an urgent threat. The toxic cocktail of carbon and other poisons that we have already spewed into the atmosphere has created a climate that will punish us for decades, according to climate expert Bill McKibben, e…

Time for a Real Energy Policy

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The election is over.  It's time for our country's leaders to implement a real energy policy that  generates clean power through rooftop solar, or other renewable energy facilities on already-disturbed lands.  The "all of the above" policy endorsed by the previous two Presidents has not been successful in combating climate change or protecting our wildlands, as we have seen with the landscape destruction wrought by fossil fuels and industrial-scale wind and solar.  We have a serious opportunity to revolutionize the way we use and generate energy -- we can make our homes and businesses more energy efficient, while using the untapped space in our cities for solar panels.

The policy tools are in place, or waiting for implementation.  EPA's RE-powering America's Land initiative that guides energy companies to build projects on already-disturbed lands (instead of pristine desert habitat), feed-in-tariffs that reimburse rooftop solar operators for excess energy th…

Goal Zero and Hurricane Relief Efforts

Goal Zero, a company that sells portable solar chargers for household electronic devices, has jumped into the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, driving a Penske rental van full of their products to New Jersey and New York to provide solar power to relief centers and citizens in need.  While utility companies are struggling to untangle the mess of substations and downed transmission lines in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, thousands of people are left without the energy we have taken for granted to run everything from our cell phones to medical devices.  One thing is for sure, even without the more frequent weather extremes brought on by climate change (which Hurricane Sandy may, or may not be a result of...see Andy Revkin's post), we need to create a cleaner, and more resilient energy supply.

From Goal Zero's blog post:
"We first showed up to the FEMA location to meet up with Team Rubicon Division 3. We then proceeded to the community center across the street where they h…

Hurricane Sandy's Battle Cry

Are we fighting to save our way of life, or the planet we live on?  Hurricane (and post-tropical cyclone) Sandy left lives, communities, and ecosystems scarred from the Caribbean up through the Ohio Valley.  People are measuring damage in lives lost, boardwalks destroyed, subway stations flooded, and homes without electricity.  The storm is front and center for those warning about the dangers of human-induced climate change -- weather patterns have become more extreme and unpredictable as the planet warms, leading to  frequent "100 year" events -- storms like Hurricane Sandy, the "derecho" wave of thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands earlier this summer, the unusual rainfall in parts of the southwest, and prolonged "drought" in the Midwest.  Extreme is the new normal.

We are drowning our planet in toxic emissions, taking puffs from fossil fuels every time we turn on a light switch, or turn the key on an internal combustion engine. But are we …

First Solar's Funny Math in Ivanpah

First Solar is moving forward with the environmental review process for the Silver State South project, and is requesting permission to destroy enough desert wildlands to accomodate a 350 megawatt (MW) facility, according to the draft report published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).   But the company only has a buyer for 250MW, and it only has permission from energy regulators to ship 230MW over the transmission lines. This is significant because the company is proposing to build the project on a very narrow strip of desert habitat that serves as a critical genetic linkage for the desert tortoise, and First Solar appears to be inflating how much of the valuable desert land it actually needs. This is a location in the desert where every acre counts, but the company appears to be ignoring pleas by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and other desert experts to preserve this wildlife corridor.

According to the California Public Utilities Commission, First Solar has a power purchase …

Sunlight, Camera, Action!

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ReWire's Chris Clarke wrote on the winners of a video contest called "Sunlight. Camera. Action." hosted by Environment California, and the winners' videos are awesome.   The point of the contest was to tap the community's creative talent to promote the potential for rooftop solar in Los Angeles.  There are already thousands of rooftop solar installations in Los Angeles, but as these videos show, there is potential (and enthusiasm!) for so much more.

Below are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of the video contests: