Yesterday, I posted Part One of Starhawk‘s call for saving our civilization from the catastrophic effects of climate change, effects that are already upon us. In today’s final part, she offers “a few short, short, short lists to help get us thinking about what priorities we should push for…”
Copyright (2008) by Starhawk. All rights reserved.
This copyright protects Starhawk’s right to future publication of her work. Nonprofit, activist, and educational groups may circulate this essay (forward it, reprint it, translate it, post it, or reproduce it) for nonprofit uses. Please do not change any part of it without permission. Please keep this notice with it.
* Pass tax credits for renewables.
* Enact fuel efficiency standards for new cars, trucks, etc. and for all big users of fossil fuels.
* Require energy efficiency in new construction, and white or reflective roofs, porous paving, etc.
* Put caps on carbon emissions for big users that will decline over time to zero by 2050 or sooner. (There’s a longer discussion of this in the Primer.)
* Take up Al Gore’s challenge to generate 100 per cent of our energy from renewables within ten years.
* Sequester carbon by building healthy soil through organic farming, no-till techniques, and planned rotational grazing. (More on this on the website.)
* Localize economies and food systems—farmers’ markets, CSAs, city farms and community gardens. Support barter systems and local currencies.
* End subsidies for nuclear energy, coal and oil.
* Bring the troops home—war has a carbon cost as well as a human cost and a financial cost. Employ diplomacy, not troops.
* Ratify Kyoto—no, it’s not nearly enough but gosh, if we can’t even do that, how are we going to have any global credibility on this issue?
Low Hanging Fruit:
(Technologies and solutions that are already up and running, or nearly so, that have the best Energy Return on Energy Investment, will meet the least resistance and will give the biggest bang for the buck in the short run.)
* Photovoltaics—larger scale production to bring down costs, tax credits, rebates and cost-share programs for new construction and retrofitting.
* Concentrated Solar Power and solar thermal on both large scale and home scale.
* Electric cars and plug-in hybrids—in production or on the verge. Economies of scale—government purchasing agreements, tax credits, rebates or cost-shares or loan guarantees for purchasers can help replace our current transport fleet. Mandates for energy efficiency and requirements for zero-carbon vehicles, as were once in place in California, can support their production and adoption.
* Biofuels from waste and recycled materials and algae.
* White roofs. (A study from the Lawrence Berkeley labs suggest that white roofs not only save cooling costs but radiate heat outward and on a large scale, could have a major impact.)
* Regenerative farming and grazing that build soil organic carbon.
* Forest protection—a moratorium on the logging of old growth. Tree planting and restoration.
* Localization—building local food economies, sense of place, encouraging famers’ markets, urban agriculture, local small businesses, walkable neighborhoods,
* Pedestrian zones, bike paths, good interface with bikes and public transport—safe parking areas, allowing bikes on subways and busses.
Even in a lousy economy, we absolutely need to do these things, and they will provide jobs and a vital economic stimulus:
* The national grid needs to be upgraded to be able to handle distributed sources of energy and Vehicle to Grid technology.
* Infrastructure for renewables needs to be built on the large scale.
* Technical help to developing countries: It’s only fair, equitable and good long-term security to help developing countries skip the 19th and 20th centuries and leap into the 21st with renewable energy sources. Offer to replace Iran’s nuclear plants with solar infrastructure, China’s coal plants with wind.
* Cost share programs and rebates for retrofitting existing homes for energy efficiency.
* Training programs and green jobs in the inner city.
* Job training for the unemployed in green industries and regenerative agriculture.
(Things we need to invest in now for the long term future. If we’re going to borrow billions, let’s spend them on:)
* Trains, busses, and other forms of transport to get people out of their cars.
* Research on all the promising technologies: new batteries and forms of energy storage, wave and tidal power, hydrogen from renewables—as a store for energy and as a replacement fuel for air travel. Aquaculture to produce biofuels. And so many more…(see that website for the full list!)
* Public infrastructure.
* Retrofitting of existing buildings for energy efficiency.
* Forest and wildland protection in large blocks to allow plants and animals room to migrate in response to climate change. Habitat protection and restoration.
* Quality education at every level on the environment.
And—we don’t need it!
* Offshore drilling and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—The U.S. has 3% of the world’s oil reserves and uses 25% of the energy. We can’t drill our way into energy independence, and drilling that compromises the safety of fragile ecosystems can cause irreparable damage for small, short-term gains. We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, not drill for more. And new oil fields won’t come on line for over a decade and require huge energy investments to develop.
* “Clean” coal: There is no such thing.
* Cutting down rainforests to produce corn or palm oil for biofuels
* Replacing food crops with fuel crops.
* Solving problems with guns and weapons.
Okay, this short list has already gotten long. Again, here is the link.
The environment is not an afterthought:
it’s the ground of economy, security and survival. Environmental protection, environmental justice and regeneration must be our top priorities, because they are the only sound foundation for every other endeavor.