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Jobs, the Environment, and a Planet in Crisis

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/06/jobs-environment-and-planet-crisis

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The fossil fuel industry receives a lot of criticism these days, and rightfully so. But in the final analysis, we are the ones who support the energy industry and it is our standard of living that will need to change. So contemplate what you can do for the cause

Personal Actions

End our love affair with the automobile

Ride more trains and buses

Car pool

Walk and bike more

Turn off the air conditioner in the summer and dial the thermostat down in winter

Become vegetarians or vegans

Refill plastic water bottles with tap water

Discontinue using aluminum cans with and without carbonation

Maximize use of reusable bags and products

Recycle junk mail

Forego fast junk food

Go to “slow food”;

Recycle maximally, especially aluminum cans

Drive and accelerate more slowly

Climb more stairs

Plant more trees

Forego use of spray cans

Ride more trains and buses

Repair, mend and alter as much as possible

Buy solar panels

Compost as much as possible

Last person out of the room turn off the lights

Eat and farm organic

Ride more trains and buses

Fly fewer planes

Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings

Use manual tools instead of power tools

Share more

Use rakes rather than leaf blowers

Decrease use of bottled water and refill plastic bottles with tap water

Maximize reusable bags and products

Push rather than power small mowers

Replace lawns with vegetable gardens

Stop fertilizing and mowing lawns

Compost as much as possible

Minimize use of disposables (Pampers);

Maximize high efficiency LED and solar powered lighting;

Limit endless gadgets

Use motion lighting, where appropriate

Decrease consumption

Limit family size

Local Government Actions

Reorganize cities, building taller residences with a smaller footprint (the end of suburbia)

Institute a carbon tax

Promote car pooling subsidize and expand mass transit

Expand bike paths

Have shareable (zip) cars

Ban electric outdoor signs;

Eat and farm organic

Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings

Eliminate approximately 50% of all street lighting and office lighting in unoccupied buildings

eliminate “fast junk food”; go to “slow food

replace

Federal Government Actions

Eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel corporations

Ban gasohol

Rein in the militaries for defense only and outlaw war

Further shrink nuclear arsenals and increase treaties

Discontinue night baseball

Promote making electronics, house wares, furniture, etc to be as durable and long-lived as possible

Promote recycling

Set standards for making appliances to be as energy efficient as possible

Discontinue single use aluminum cans

Ban electric outdoor signs

Subsidize solar and wind power;

Change from petroleum based fertilizers to regenerative agriculture

Reverse deforestation, plant more trees

Restrict spray cans

Promote conference calls and web cams, fewer meetings

Promote zero population growth with free condoms and family planning world-wide

End yearly auto model changes;

Proscribe junk mail

Scrap the mission to Mars

Adjust tax laws to limit family size

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Aviva Chomsky does yeoman’s work here smoothing out the environmental-labor divide over climate action, or at least explaining it, but I get stuck on an earlier paragraph, spelling out a concern with the GND which I have shared (my emphasis):

One Green New Deal controversy focuses on the future role of fossil fuels in that plan. A number of environmental organizations believe that such energy sources have no place in our future, that they need to stay in the ground, period. They cite climate science and the urgent need to move rapidly and drastically to eliminate carbon emissions as the basis for such a conclusion. As it happens, the Green New Deal avoids directly challenging the fossil-fuel industry. In fact, it doesn’t even use the term "fossil fuels."

I hardly know where to start… The Arctic icecap just broke loose this summer, people. That open water over North America they’re calling the Greenland-CAA Megacrack. The most alarming accellerator pedal among the feedbacks is all that dark blue open water, now on all sides of a detached icecap. The dark water soaks up enough more heat from sunlight to push us 25 years, reluctantly, into a future featuring a more and more unpredictable climate system, from now on.

What does it take? How deeply does the wound torn by fossil fuel extraction have to stab? The social reality that “fossil fuels” are not mentioned in polite company is as disturbing as the Arctic.

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In this political culture, there’s an instinctual impulse to “massage” the message.

But such instincts in the face of extinction inhibit the understanding of just what we’re facing.

Politics as usual, even if taken a step further, won’t pull us away from the precipice.

If we don’t viscerally suss that, we will never muster the motivation necessary to avert our oblivion.

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"And despite the fact that these often-massive sports utility vehicles (SUVs) not only cost more, but also pollute more, SUV sales continue to climb…

"The global demand for SUVs hit a new record in 2017, totaling 34 percent of global car sales for the year. The vehicles were particularly popular in North America, Europe, and China, despite the fact that all three regions struggle with severe air pollution — a problem that more fuel-guzzling SUVs is unlikely to solve.

"Both foreign and domestic automakers are vying for the checkbooks of busy parents who want to trade up for size, space and transport potential.

"Ford sees big opportunity as 80 million Millennials begin to have children. Nearly half of new car buyers are between 45 and 64, and the oldest Millennials are turning 38 next year, said Erich Merkle, U.S. sales analyst at Ford. “We know the demographic, over the next five to 10 years, is going to grow significantly.”
About 35% of the consumers who purchase large SUVs are 35 to 44, which means a huge demographic shift into a new vehicle category, he said. “The one thing all generations have in common is children.”

"In fact, sales of large SUVs spiked 22% between 2015 and 2016, which means 340,530 drove off dealership lots last year alone. "

Ah, who am I to criticize lifestyles?

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I second your thoughts unlikelysource. We indeed must overcome our deeply instinctual and ironic “what’s in it for me” impulses to address a threat that will eventually eliminate us all if not effectively dealt with in the next decade. I am no expert, but I can’t help think that there is enough geothermal energy available under the Yellowstone caldera alone to power everything west of the Mississippi. And of course wind and solar could provide all that’s needed for the eastern half of the US. The Millions of jobs needs to implement these systems are just waiting to be created. It seems so achievable technologically, if we can just overcome our instinctual/destructive self interest. The stranglehold the carbon based energy industry has on our government must be broken.

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Robert, I think it’s vital that we understand that whatever the energy
and technology related aspects of the prospects of our future
survival, without a fundamental change in how we cooperate with each
other, in how we view the commons, they will be rendered moot.

We also have to accept that living with less is an inviolable tenet of
any viable future. We won’t “gee whiz” our way out of this.

Lastly, all forms of renewable or “clean” energy come with challenges
and contradictions that can’t be ignored, if we are to implement them
in just and equitable ways, not least of which is just who decides how
that occurs. It’s disheartening to see not a few “environmentalists”
ignore the dangers of corporate control of these resources, simply
because they are deemed “green”.

In sum, the task before us is not merely one of human survival, but of
humane evolution.

Doug

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As long as you’re reposting, that’s a long list of things to do. I would likewise begin such a list admitting that most of us drive and fly too much and are too dependent upon goods trucked and shipped too far. Most of us adore race cars, motorboats and gas powered recreational vehicles. A shorter list can summarize an effective course of action found in the planning philosophy of New Urbanism: economically mixed-use, transit-oriented infill development. An economic mix of uses brings homes closer to occupations, retail stores, medical services, schools, fine entertainments, parks, natural areas and even small plots of farmland and neighborhood gardens. Within vast metropolitan areas, regional transit systems (standard light rail) are necessary to reduce travel time (and impacts) between homes and uses that must be separated, such as industrial manufacturing and commercial centers. Buses must complement regional light rail though the standard 40’ bus does not convert to electric nor hybrid very well. To finish this shortened list of things to do, the drive thru frozen patty hamburger dive is both a major source of demand for butchered cattle and enabler of motor vehicle travel. Picturing a future world with fewer cars is a good place to start.

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Geo-thermal probably can’t scale up in quantity needed to become a replacement energy source. Boil water, turn steam generator, transmit electricity long distances to regional utility grids. Intermittent wind power has more potential but also relies on long-distance transmission lines. Wind farms are proposing battery pack storage nearby, but it should be argued Household EVs should get battery pack resources matched to rooftop solar arrays as a means to survive grid failure, the means to monitor and reduce household energy consumption, and a choice whether electricity is for driving or for household uses, whereby shorter drives become the norm and possible without having to drive, whereby local economies grow and the corporate controlled economy of long-distance travel and transport displaced. Yeehaw!

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Tryyyying to be hopeful…

“How Unions and Climate Organizers Learned To Work Together in New York”
[https://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/21924/climate-and-community-protection-act-new-york-labor-unions-cwa-seiu]

“The Just Transition for Coal Workers Can Start Now. Colorado Is Showing How”
[http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/21975/colorado-just-transition-labor-coal-mine-workers-peoples-climate-movement]

And likewise hopeful from a technological standpoint…an accessible, enlightening 50 minute discussion of the rapid evolution of renewable energy from a guy at Stanford, a major renewable energy research university:

“The Next Big Opportunities in Energy Storage” (2018)
Global energy storage on the grid is expected to double what it is today by 2021. Countries such as Japan, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States are preparing to take advantage of this shift through research, policy and integration. This webinar will discuss the rapid growth in interest, current trends in energy storage (particularly electrochemical), as well as markets involving the electricity grid.

Stanford Assistant Professor William Chueh shares:
-Emerging technologies on the horizon for energy storage
-New applications for energy storage
-Trends in the energy market (component costs, production, manufacturing)

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=_LAuDTNW5dw]