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Archive for August, 2008

Inspired by Andy Stanford-Clark‘s recent home energy monitoring project on Twitter, I decided to start “green_watch“, a 24/7 monitoring of my energy consumption, not just at home, but everywhere I go. Unlike “andy_home“, “green_watch” does not rely on any fancy home automation feeds from various electrical sources. No KWHs in green_watchtweets. Instead, an honest reporting on all my power using activities, and I mean all.

My hope is to gain some valuable learning from “green_watch“, not unlike what happened last year, with my month long Daily Footprint Project.

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Al Gore did a fabulous job yesterday, of nailing down the three key environmental challenges facing our country.

First, is the interdependence between climate crisis, economy, and national security.

And it just so happens that the climate crisis is intertwined with the other two great challenges facing our nation: reviving our economy and strengthening our national security. The solutions to all three require us to end our dependence on carbon-based fuels.

Second, is the need to use a multi solutions approach, not forgetting to include conservation in the mix -I would love to think that Al read my earlier criticism . . . :)

Instead of letting lobbyists and polluters control our destiny, we need to invest in American innovation. Almost a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” We already have everything we need to use the sun, the wind, geothermal power, conservation and efficiency to solve the climate crisis—everything, that is, except a president who inspires us to believe, “Yes we can.”

Third, is exposing the hold of the big oil and coal interests on the Republican party, and on the media, and the risk we run if we elect another Republican president.

So how did this no-brainer become a brain-twister? Because the carbon fuels industry—big oil and coal—have a 50-year lease on the Republican Party and they are drilling it for everything it’s worth. And this same industry has spent a half a billion dollars this year alone trying to convince the public they are actually solving the problem, when they are in fact making it worse every single day.

Well said, Al!

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No time to blog. I have been taken by the energy of the Democratic Convention, and spent all my evenings glued to the TV. Nervously praying for no missteps. La Marguerite is an environment blog, not a place to share my political views. This time is different, however. I feel the big environmental challenges facing us are political issues. One only need to take a look at the past eight years, to be convinced. Eight years, during which we, the citizens of this great country, have been consistently ‘dis-inspired’, demoralized, and demobilized on so many fronts. Eight years, during which other countries looked up to us for leadership on climate change, and found nothing instead. Eight years of systematic obstruction to hundreds of good environmental proposals. Eight years of special fuel interests pulling the strings behind the scenes and imposing their wishes. Eight years, during which CO2 levels have risen steadily, past the 350 danger zone. Eight years of muffling the voices of climate scientists. Eight long years, that have dwarfed my efforts, and others’ efforts to try to heal nature.

I am ready for a change. Are you?

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As inspiring as Michelle, and Ted, and Hillary were, what thrilled me even more, were the governors’ speeches yesterday. Governors like Mark Warner, Ted Strickland, Ed Rendell, Tom Vilsack, and Brian Schweitzer, who emphatically described their vision of a new American dream, largely fueled by bold energy and climate policies:

Here are some excerpts from Governor Schweitzer‘s speech:

A generation later, we face a great new challenge, a world energy crisis that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our way of life. And until we address that energy crisis, our problems will only get worse. For eight long years, the White House has led us in the wrong direction. And now Senator McCain wants four more years of the same.

Can we afford four more years? Is it time for a change? When do we need it? And who do we need as the next President of the United States of America? That’s right. Barack Obama is the change we need!

Right now, the United States imports about 70 percent of its oil from overseas. At the same time, billions of dollars that we spend on all that foreign oil seems to end up in the bank accounts of those around the world who are openly hostile to American values and our way of life. This costly reliance on fossil fuels threatens America and the world in other ways, too. CO2 emissions are increasing global temperatures, sea levels are rising and storms are getting worse.

We need to break America’s addiction to foreign oil. We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made. And we need a president who can marshal our nation’s resources, get the job done and deliver the change we need.

That leader is Barack Obama. Barack Obama knows there’s no single platform for energy independence. It’s not a question of either wind or clean coal, solar or hydrogen, oil or geothermal. We need them all to create a strong American energy system, a system built on American innovation.

After eight years of a White House waiting hand and foot on big oil, John McCain offers more of the same. At a time of skyrocketing fuel prices, when American families are struggling to keep their gas tanks full, John McCain voted 25 times against renewable and alternative energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind energy.

This not only hurts America’s energy independence, it could cost American families more than a hundred thousand jobs. At a time when America should be working harder than ever to develop new, clean sources, John McCain wants more of the same and has taken more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Now he wants to give the oil companies another 4 billion dollars in tax breaks. Four billion in tax breaks for big oil?

That’s a lot of change, but it’s not the change we need.

In Montana, we’re investing in wind farms and we’re drilling in the Bakken formation, one of the most promising oil fields in America. We’re pursuing coal gasification with carbon sequestration and we’re promoting greater energy efficiency in homes and offices.

Even leaders in the oil industry know that Senator McCain has it wrong. We simply can’t drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, including the ones he can’t even remember.

That single-answer proposition is a dry well, and here’s why. America consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, but has less than 3 percent of the reserves. You don’t need a $2 calculator to figure that one out. There just isn’t enough oil in America, on land or offshore, to meet America’s full energy needs.

Barack Obama understands the most important barrel of oil is the one you don’t use. Barack Obama’s energy strategy taps all sources and all possibilities. It will give you a tax credit if you buy a fuel-efficient car or truck, increase fuel-efficiency standards and put a million plug-in hybrids on the road.

Invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in clean, renewable energy technology. This will create up to 5 million new, green jobs and fuel long-term growth and prosperity. Senator Obama’s plan will also invest in a modern transmission grid to deliver this new, clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels to homes, offices and the batteries in America’s new plug-in hybrid cars.

I am regaining faith in our political leadership. No matter what happens in the elections, the governors, and the mayors, and the senators, and the congress men and women, will take over. They understand what is at stake. They know that climate change and energy needs are not to be viewed as just bothers, but huge economic opportunities instead.

Do you share my excitement?

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When I wrote about the opportunity to align desired green behaviors with individual needs and wants, this is what I had in mind:

Different people will rank these needs and wants differently. Using myself as an example, the primary motivators for me to bike more, are fun and convenience. If I was in a lower-socio-economic group, where making ends meet was the primary issue, I would probably pick money. If I was a mother of young children, the bonding potential would work best. Etc. 

Seems like a no brainer to me! The question is how come so few green marketers and environmental communicators think along those lines? The last time I read something that made really sense to me, was in Steve Bishop’s article, “Don’t Bother With the Green Consumer“. He uses a bike example as well! :) (I also refer to Steve’s article in a recent post I wrote for the Huffington Post)

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From Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.‘s speech at the Democratic National Convention, in Denver, last night:

“The well being of the “We” depends on the well being of the “He” and the “She”.”

How about the other way around also? The well being of the “I” depends on the well being of the “We”. This is especially true for the global environmental crisis facing us.

Lately, I have been giving lots of thoughts to this:

"I" and "We" Zone

The “I” triangle is inspired from Maslow‘s. I just added a ‘want’ layer on top. This is to account for the fact that much of our Western behaviors are not so much influenced by needs, as by wants.

The “We” circle covers the world’s needs we need to address collectively.

The conventional wisdom states that individual interests are at odds with those global needs. While that may be true to a large extent, let us not forget the space where the “I” and the “We” overlap. This is where I think we should focus our attention. Translating global needs into desired individual behaviors, and see which ones amongst those, can be immediately matched with existing individual wants and needs.

In my next post I will explore what that common space looks like, and what it means for behavioral solutions to climate change and other global sustainability crisis.

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I have been cleaning house, and just finished revamping the link categories on La Marguerite Blog. The result? A listing of the best environmental sites currently on the Web. Thought leaders, green business, citizen research, green moms, social media gurus, green poets, news sources, activists, and cutting edge science, are all covered. 

Feel free to browse, and borrow, at your discretion. And if I missed any important voice, please let me know. 

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