All posts by SustainableRossmoor

Rossmoor Participation in San Francisco Climate March

On Thursday, September 6, Sustainable Rossmoor (SR) members were joined by members of the Democrats of Rossmoor and others at a sign making party for the San Francisco area “Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice” Climate March held on Saturday, September 8, 2018.

A few folks brought their own supplies and snacks to share. Many others used 14 foam boards on sticks supplied by SR. Markers were loaned by Katha Hartley, Democrats of Rossmoor club President. The overflow crowd from Mulligan went out to the patio. People were industrious and artsy. Nine folks created signs to be donated to marchers going empty handed.

Sustainable Rossmoor members were among 30,000 at the march on Saturday, September 8, 2018.

 

 

 

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The crowd went from Embarcadero Plaza to Civic Center, demanding racial and economic justice, an end to fossil fuel production, and a transition to 100% renewable energy.

These demands were given to Gov. Jerry Brown ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit on September 12 -14, 2018. The Summit is a meeting of public officials and corporate executives from around the world.

March organizers were from Rise for Climate, Justice and Jobs. Marchers urged support for community-led solutions, starting in places impacted the most by pollution and climate change. March contingents came from over 300 organizations representing environmental and climate justice organizations, communities of faith, immigrant justice organizations, Indigenous-led groups, labor organizations, youth, and many more.

According to the Mercury News, the Global Climate Action Summit “makes California a worldwide flag-bearer on the issue at a time when the federal government is in retreat. The event at Moscone Center, dubbed the “Global Climate Action Summit,”  is something of a swan song for outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown. He leaves office in January, having led California to major gains in renewable energy and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — all amid a backdrop of record drought, floods and massive wildfires that brought the issue into stark focus.”

 

 

September Film: NO IMPACT MAN

September Film: NO IMPACT MAN

When:  September 12, 7:00 pm

Where:  Peacock Hall

This award-winning documentary tells the story of author Colin Beavan, who went completely “green” in NYC, giving up virtually all of the comforts of modern living — electricity, gas-powered transportation, non-local food and landfill waste disposal — in a drastic effort to curb his environmental impact. 
The camera captures many joyful moments, such as stomping on laundry in the bathtub and shopping at a dairy farm, as well as the toll this well-intentioned, year-long project takes on Beavan’s wife and 2-year old baby daughter. Ultimately, it saves them over $1,000/month and brings this family closer together. 

In November 2006 author Colin Beavan, started a research project for his next book ‘No Impact Project’. Intending to actualize some of his Zen Buddhist beliefs, this newly self-proclaimed environmentalist asked himself:
“Why do I have to wait for congress to do something? Why do I have to wait for big business to do something? Why don’t I do something?! “

He could no longer avoid pointing the finger at himself. He left behind his liberal complacency for a vow to make as little environmental impact as possible for one year.
No more automated transportation, no more electricity, no more non-local food, no more material consumption… no problem. That is, until his espresso-guzzling, retail-worshipping wife Michelle and their two year-old daughter are dragged into the fray.

The documentary shares the highs and lows of the families journey to sustainable living, including Michelle’s year off from consuming fashion. From ditching meat and shopping from bulk food bins and farmers markets.

Michelle called him a “1900’s house wife” as he cooked, composted, and cleaned for the family all without relying on most 21st century conveniences. Colin made all of their cleaning products with borax, baking soda (the box was compostable) and vinegar.

The film transitions to reality-tv territory at times when the couple have heartfelt discussions about the possibility of adding another member to their family, and Michelle’s ‘eco-slips’ in regards to coffee and ‘camping at home’ despite a hate of camping. While these hurdles can be dealt with from the family unit, some of the biggest challenges that the household faced was both positive and negative media coverage.

After the experiment was over, Colin and Michelle did bring back the the electricity and their fridge but still don’t use the freezer, a dishwasher, an AC, or have a TV. They also traveled by air to see family. They remain very conscious of their trash output. They continue to try and not buy anything new, preferring to source from secondhand places. They’ve lost weight, sleep better, have more energy, and save over $1,000/month.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/D58kZfqTrjY

 

 

Some Surprising Facts About the Importance of Recycling – Part 1

All of us are aware that the main reason recycling is so important is that products that can be recycled do not end up in landfills, thereby reserving landfills for material that has no redeemable value. All of us know about products we use that were created from recyclable materials. However, there might be some that you did not know about.

In this article, I will identify some of them and in a later article I will include some others. Here is a list of some products that come from recycled material: recycled paper shopping bags; compostable soup containers; eco-friendly takeout containers; disposable cups – hot/cold; sugarcane and bamboo plates; clear food containers; wastebasket; writing paper; two-ply bathroom tissue; paper towel rolls; and custom cup tops.

However, there are products you might be surprised to learn that are made using recycled material. Here are some of those products. It is possible some of the following will be new information to you.

Keen’s Harvest Wallet and Bags: Keen makes the bags, totes and wallets, which comprise its Harvest Collections, out of pre-consumer automobile side airbags. The leftover, excess or obsolete airbags are shipped from the manufacturers to a recycler in Salt Lake City, where they’re sorted before being shipped to a facility in Chico. There, the bags are cut into bag pattern pieces either by hand (using a rotary knife) or with a die-cut machine. Crafters sew the product together; when completed, each item is hand numbered and signed by the person who made it.

Looptworks Leather iPad Covers: Looptworks is no stranger to using recycled materials. The company previously crafted items from neoprene wetsuit fabric, cotton jersey, Italian wool, hemp, nylon, vinyl and recycled polyester—but these upcycled iPad cases are its first foray into leather. The cases are made from scraps of excess shoe leather eliminated because it had natural blemishes. This discarded material can amount to 4,500 pounds per day from just one factory.

Cardboard FM Radio: This radio, made mostly from recycled cardboard, can also be recycled at the end of its life. It’s powered by four AAA batteries and catches FM signals with its antenna, but you can plug your iPod in to listen to your own music, too.

Moving Comfort Active wear: The grounds used to create your daily jolt of caffeine have to end up somewhere—namely, a landfill. Many pieces in Moving Comfort’s active wear line incorporate a fabric called S. Cafe, which uses a patented process to remove the phenol, ester and oil from coffee grounds and turn them into yarn. That yarn is incorporated into a fabric that, thanks to the coffee, is naturally odor repellant, protects from UV rays and dries quickly.

Skateback iPhone back: Each week, skateboard factories create enough waste to fill a city bus—so Grove and Maple xo collaborated to make iPhone backs out of the discarded post-industrial skateboard material. The backs are each milled and finished by hand, so no two are alike; they attach to the back of the phone with a 3M adhesive.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz iPad Cover: Put the “book” back into ebooks with this awesome iPad cover, which looks just like the first edition of Frank L. Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” available in the mental floss store. They’ve also got “The Great Gatsby” and “Pride and Prejudice.” All of the covers are made of 30 percent recycled materials.

Courtesy of July 3, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Dale Harrington can be emailed at dalejharrington@gmail.com

Fossil-Free California: Fabulous Nonprofit Organization

Last October I spent two weeks in London, and while I enjoyed my visit immensely, the air pollution was a nasty surprise. An inversion layer of low clouds kept diesel emissions near the ground making breathing most unpleasant. A metallic taste was always in my mouth. I had forgotten that most of Europe still relies on diesel fuel for cars and trucks.

What a relief it was to come back to California and breathe fresh air. I feel so grateful to live in a state that has done more than most states to clean up air pollution, from stringent requirements on controlling gas emissions to promoting clean energy sources – solar, wind and geothermal.

California benefits from the work of many volunteer citizens who are making our state a better place to live. During Earth Awareness Week in Rossmoor, I learned about a wonderful nonprofit organization called Fossil-Free California. This nonprofit was formed in 2015 and has three main goals: 1) to encourage investment entities – pension funds, banks, private equity firms – as well as individuals, to divest their funds from fossil fuel investments (coal, oil, and gas); 2) to promote legislation that encourages clean, renewable energy rather than fossil fuels; and 3) to use litigation to stop polluting practices of companies and governmental agencies.

Fossil-Free California volunteers are currently lobbying for two bills in the state legislature. Senate bill 964 (sponsored by Senator Ben Allen of Santa Monica) would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to consider climate risk in their investment decisions and to stop making new investments in coal, oil and gas by 2020. These two public pension funds together control a huge amount of money – nearly $500 billion. If these two entities stopped investing in fossil fuels, the belief is that banks and private equity funds might follow. This bill has passed in the Senate and is currently under consideration in the Assembly.

The second bill that Fossil-Free California is supporting is SB100 sponsored by Senator Kevin de Leon (24th District of Los Angeles). This bill would set a 2045 target date for 100 percent clean electricity for California.

Whenever I get discouraged by climate change deniers, I take heart from thinking about the fabulous volunteers in California who are giving so much of their time and energy to improve life for all of us. To become a member of Fossil-Free California or to volunteer, visit the website fossilfreeca.org.

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, June 20, 2018 edition. Anne Foreman can be emailed at anneforeman60@gmail.com.

How to use the EV charging stations in Rossmoor

How to use the EV charging stations in Rossmoor at a glance*

The three groups of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are almost complete. Gateway has the first set of charging stations available for use. There are 10 parking spaces with charging connectors at each location: the Gateway parking lot across from the bus stop, the west side of the Fitness Center parking lot, and the Event Center parking lot. Each location includes two handicap-accessible-compliant stations.

The GRF Board has adopted some rules for use:

  1. Parking at all locations is NOT dedicated to electric vehicles.

Parking is first-come, first-served for all vehicle types from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

  1. Parking IS dedicated to EVs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  2. There is a three-hour limit for charging between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  3. EVs plugged in over three hours between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. will be charged a penalty rate of twice the normal rate.
  4. Rates do apply for charging. The rates include the cost of electricity plus a 20 percent mark-up for GRF and any fees charged by the service provider Greenlots (currently a 5% surcharge).
  5. Rates will be available on the Greenlots website (www.greenlots.com/ev-drivers/ and APP.
  6. Residents with electric vehicles will need to call or go on the Greenlots website to register and get the APP or a RFID key fob. See accompanying article from Greenlots on frequently asked questions.

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Charging at the Gateway EV charging station using the Greenlots App (notes by a SR member)

  1. activate the Greenlots App on your mobile phone (this is not the RFID key fob procedure)
  2. scan the station bar code or enter the station number by hand:  the Gateway Station ID number is:  112476U  (Note the Station ID 112476U is same for all 10 Chargers/Connectors at this location; it will be different for another location such as the Events Center.)
  3. select the “Connector” (See screen-shot with purple circle around the “8 SAEJ1772” connector entry. Touch the screen for a drop-down box showing all the connectors available at this location and select the one you intend to use.)
  4. touch “START Charge“  (touch “STOP Charge” when finished)

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Here are frequently asked questions on charging electric vehicles at the new EV charging stations in Rossmoor.

Q: How does a driver start a charge session?

Start a session with the free Greenlots APP, a Greenlots RFID card or call 855-7584. Sign up at www.charge.greenlots.com.

Q: Can my electric vehicle use the stations in Rossmoor?

Yes. Most electric vehicles are equipped with the standard J1772 level 2 charging port. For DC Fast Charging Stations, CHAdeMo or CCS are also standard on most electric vehicles.

Q: Can a driver pay with a credit card?

Yes, you can pay with a credit card using the mobile APP, or by calling 855-900-7584.

Q: How much does it cost to use?

Session fees vary and are determined by the site owner, but the Greenlots APP lists the pricing for each station.

Q: What if the driver needs help?

The customer care team is available to assist drivers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached by calling 855-900-7584.

Q: How can a driver find the Greenlots APP?

It is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Q: How can a driver order a Greenlots RFID card?

After signing up, log in to your driver account to request an RFID card or call 855-900-7584.

Q: Can the stations be used in the rain?

Yes. The station is safe to use in all weather conditions, but charging may be slower in cold or hot conditions.

Download How to use the EV charging stations in Rossmoor at a glance

* EV Charging Station Information courtesy of the Rossmoor News, July 25, 2018; p. 8A.

I am a Scientist and I Do Not Believe in Global Warming…!


Various people in Rossmoor have told me they do not believe in global warming. Normally I courteously respect diversity in religious beliefs. Scientists, however, do not do “belief,” they do “verifiable,” “hypothesis” and “theory.”

To scientists, the word “verifiable” connotes observations, measurements or experiments clearly explained and that can be repeated by other observers. That places a substantial burden on scientists. It requires a report in public writing with sufficient detail of both the results of an observation or experiment and how those experiments were performed, so that others can repeat the process. This is the modern view of how to investigate the world. With some minor exceptions, it did not occur to “philosophers” until the time of Galileo. Prior to then, philosophers and charlatans kept their methods and observations secret, reporting only conclusions. Absent such information, their conclusions were unverifiable.

“Hypothesis” is almost a secret code of scientists and mathematicians. Why it remains secret is not clear; most folks take mathematics courses in school. Mathematics begins with an hypothesis; if the hypothesis can be logically proved, it generates a new theorem. Notice the similarly to “theory.” A body of hypotheses and theorems constitutes a field of mathematics: geometry or algebra or topology. Proof can be complicated or difficult. Some great hypotheses of mathematics remained unproved for years; some are still unproved.

In experimental science, one also begins with an hypothesis. A scientist uses an hypothesis to design experiments to test an idea. Such experimental tests are not as exact as a mathematical proof and often end up demonstrating the hypothesis holds for some limited conditions, but point to other conditions for which the hypothesis may be modified. This was true for Newton’s grand concept of mechanics. He proposed the concept of energy and determined that the energy of a moving body equaled half its weight multiplied by the square of its speed. He also invented a concept called “gravity,” which was a property of mass.

Newton’s mechanics enabled the great exploration of the motion of planets and, today, still governs routine calculations for space travel. In the late 1800s, however, astronomers found a minor but real exception to Newton’s equations. Some 30 years later, Einstein developed a new theory that more precisely explained the effect of massive bodies on the behavior of light. In his general theory of relativity, he dispensed with the concept of “gravity,” replacing it with the concept that the geometry of space changes in the vicinity of an object according to the mass of the object.

Newton was not “wrong,” he just did not have the data that Einstein did. Newton was part of the early scientific awakening. At about the same time, other curious folks began to observe and think seriously about the geological objects around them, such as mountains, oceans, glaciers, layers of different kinds of rocks and mineral deposits. Geology is a much more complicated study than Newton’s mechanics, so their progress was slower to generate widely accepted theories.

Basically, however, the first geological “theory” was that in an area where different kinds of rocks are stacked in layers, the lower layers are older than the higher layers. And, as they begin to understand the conditions that could generate the different kinds of mineral “formations,” they realized that various atmospheric conditions had to exist. For example, thick layers of coal required oxygen and higher temperatures. Other formations could only be explained by lower average temperatures. Along with this came the realization that the earth was millions of years old and had gone through many changes. For various reasons, these geologists concluded that the earth should now be getting slightly cooler. Then Louis Agassiz pointed out that in Switzerland glaciers were melting and growing smaller. This did not fit the hypothesis.

Subsequent 20th-century calculations, based on the relationship between the earth and the sun, showed that, indeed, the earth should be getting cooler, not warming. At the same time, scientists who studied how various gases affected atmospheric temperature realized that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere forced warming, not cooling.

It was around this time that scientists began to continuously measure the atmospheric and ocean temperature. These data, traced forward to today, show that the average ocean and atmospheric temperature are both increasing.

At the same time, studies and time-lapse video showed that large ice formations all over the world are melting. These studies have been published in scientific journals. The methods of study are fully described. The data are shown. You or any other person can read how these conclusions were reached. You can read their detailed reports and, if you want, go there and verify their measurements. This is not belief, it is very ordinary science.

Like virtually all scientists, I have read, understood and accept their well-documented measurements and experiments. Scientists do not “believe” in global warming – they have reviewed the measurements and experiments and accept that these folks honestly reported their procedures and data. Many of the measurements have been repeated and confirmed by others in different places around the world, from the North Pole to the deserts to the rain forests to oceans and down to the South Pole. The findings are verified and consistent. Global warming has nothing do with “belief.” It is a verified part of science.

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, June 6, 2018 edition. Author Wayne Lanier can be emailed at waynelanier-phd@gmail.com.

Civil DISOBEDIENCE, fighting for Our Environment

Civil Disobedience, fighting for OUR Environment

When:  August 8, 7:00 pm
Where:  Peacock Hall

DISOBEDIENCE is a persuasive and handsomely produced documentary from the activist organization 350.org. Disobedience tells the David vs. Goliath tale of front line leaders battling for a livable world. Filmed in the Philippines, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Cambodia and the United States, it weaves together these riveting stories with insights from the most renowned voices on social justice and climate. Disobedience is personal, passionate and powerful — the stakes could not be higher, nor the mission more critical.

A panel discussion will follow this 41 minute film — See Discussants List Below

Residents who’ve been brave enough to step up and risk being arrested will share their stories. We’ll ask the questions: When is it justified? Does it help or hurt a cause? Does it have a lasting benefit?

The future of the planet is under attack. In just the past few years, we’ve witnessed unprecedented waves of brutal storms, massive oil spills engulfing our oceans and sea life, and the hottest temperatures ever recorded in human history. Climate change is real, and it’s up to the will of the people to reverse its adverse effects. This is the argument that drives the film.

The film begins with a critical eye on the actions undertaken at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris. While each world leader seemed satisfied by the outcomes of their conference, the film contends that their final agreement does little to change the tide of global warming in the years to come. Believing that the call for real and lasting change cannot be answered by often impotent politicians, the film showcases a diverse group of activists throughout the globe who have taken the fight into their own hands.

Lidy Nacpil, a spokesperson for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, works to galvanize a citizen force against a proposed coal plant in Batangas. The plant would produce over 7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year, and therefore poses a severe environmental threat. The country knows from experience how the voice of its people can inspire wide sweeping change. In 1986, urgent protests led to the ousting of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. A growing community of like-minded citizens hope to spark the same level of passion and outcry against the region’s blossoming fossil fuel industries.

In Canada, a rapidly expanding pipeline is gradually polluting the purity of the ocean water and other natural resources. Area residents refuse to take a payout from big corporations in exchange for their complacency. They choose to fight.

In one profile after another, DISOBEDIENCE introduces us to inspiring groups of people who are advocating for a better way of life for their families, their communities and their planet. In the process, scientists and scholars educate viewers on the role of civil disobedience in affecting reform, the economic impact of environmental catastrophe, and the myriad of social issues which are worsening in the midst of climate change.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmynS5zkbQM

PANEL DISCUSSION

When Is Civil Disobedience warranted? Add your voice to those of the three panelists discussing non-violent direct action in defense of the environment on Wednesday, August 8th after the movie sponsored by Sustainable Rossmoor. The film DISOBEDIENCE starts at 7:00 pm in Peacock Hall, the panel discussion follows at 7:45 pm. Information about the film is in the movie section.
The panelists will share their stories and rationale for occasions when they veered from their professional lives to lead or join with others to defy authority. They include Steve Nadel, Janice Kirsch, and Rossmoor resident Bob Hanson; the moderator will be Marcia McLean, President of Sustainable Rossmoor. There will be time for your questions and comments.

PANELISTS

STEVE NADEL states that the essential message of non-violent civil disobedience is “It is time to end Business as Usual. When our institutions fail to protect or actively endanger our health, environment and climate we must step in to say the harm must end now.” Steve started his political organizing at the height of the Viet Nam war, and the first Earth Day in 1970. Later in the 1980’s, he took direct action at the Port Chicago Naval Weapons station to stop arms shipments to Central America. Recently, he helped organize a blockade by Sunflower Alliance at the Kinder Morgan rail lines in Richmond, when they attempted to sneak in fracked Baaken Crude to the Chevron refinery. Steve has testified multiple times at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District but also is ready to lead a protest at the Phillips 66 marine terminal in Rodeo to prevent expansion designed to accommodate Alberta tar sands.

JANICE KIRSCH, MD, MPH, is a physician who has been deeply concerned about climate disruption since her Berkeley pre-med days in the 1970’s. She has also been an activist with Physicians for Social Responsibility and been arrested for peaceful direct action on two occasions. She serves on the steering committee for 350 Bay Area, on the Board of Directors of The Climate Mobilization, and as a presenter for The Climate Reality Project.
Since climate chaos is the greatest public health threat that humankind has ever faced, she sees civil disobedience as a medical as well as a moral calling.
BOB HANSON, a Rossmoor resident, is an anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons activist who plans on being arrested Monday, Aug. 6th for the 4th time. This will happen at the annual Livermore Labs protest on Hiroshima Day. Bob was a founding member of both the Rossmoor Peace & Justice Club and Sustainable Rossmoor. Bob is very passionate about the environment, but has yet to be arrested for any actions in this area. But he says: “I won’t rule it out.”

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Those words open “A Tale of Two Cities,” Charles Dickens’ classic novel that so eloquently described the turmoil and tragedy surrounding the French Revolution. While our political, economic and cultural struggles today sometimes seem mild in comparison to that violent time, they are just as revolutionary and just as central to the future of our planet.

In 2018, hardly a day passes without a news story about the conflicts between the defenders and the critics of fossil fuels – whether it is over the federal subsidies supporting the coal and oil industries, the tariffs on solar panels being imported from China or the demand for electric vehicle charging stations around the state of California.

In parallel, we witness mega-mergers among telecommunications giants like Sprint and T-Mobile, and continuing audience wars between cable television broadcasters and Internet-based services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and YouTube.

We are living through a classic battle between old and new sources of energy and old and new forms of communication. It can be confusing for consumers like us caught in the middle, but it means life and death for companies like Chevron, Mobil, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time-Warner, General Motors and Tesla.

If you are as confused and confounded as I am by these battles and the resulting uncertainties about our future, you might find Jeremy Rifkin’s 2013 book, “The Third Industrial Revolution,” helpful. Rifkin, an economist and economic historian, has produced the clearest explanation I have seen anywhere about the profound transformations we are currently experiencing in how we generate, distribute and apply energy, and how we communicate with each other.

Rifkin’s book, which is subtitled “How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World,” is a powerful, sweeping analysis of economic, technological and cultural history as well as an inspiring vision of where we are headed. I had the privilege of hearing Rifkin speak at a conference in October 2017. I found his explanation of what is happening to us today, and how it parallels the first Industrial Revolution, to be nothing short of brilliant.

Rifkin’s basic thesis is that economic revolutions become inevitable when society experiences simultaneous disruptive transformations in three sectors: energy, communications and transportation. The three “industrial” revolutions we have experienced in the last 200 years have each resulted from the convergence of order-of-magnitude – but highly disruptive – improvements in how we generate and apply energy, how we communicate with each other and how we transport people and things.

The first Industrial Revolution, which took place between about 1780 and 1850, was driven by the invention of the steam engine, which turned the combustion of coal into power that could drive machines and propel locomotives, turning an agricultural economy into an industrial one. Manufacturing was no longer dependent on water power and goods could be transported farther, faster and far less expensively by the “iron horse” than by real ones.

At the same time, a steam-powered printing press enabled the mass printing of inexpensive newspapers and books that, in combination with public schools, created a literate population capable of working in the factories. It was a multi-dimensional, mutually-reinforcing transformation of the entire way of life in the “industrialized” nations of the world. And it totally transformed society.

In Rifkin’s view, the second Industrial Revolution occurred in the early 1900s, when the combination of electricity and oil transformed the economy once again. The oil-based energy sector led directly to the automobile and the airplane, while electricity and electric motors produced highly efficient factories along with the telephone, the radio and eventually television. The dominant form of communication during the 20th century was broadcasting: one-to-many.

Eventually the United States had three major television and radio networks, and we all listened to the same news from the same few sources at the same time (6 p.m.) every evening. Knowledge and political power was largely centralized, a reality that we have only recently begun to recognize was artificially created by the very nature of the energy and communication technologies that drove the economy.

Now, in 2018, we are in the middle of what Rifkin calls the third Industrial Revolution. As he puts it, the fossil fuel economy is dying; renewable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal, are already significantly cheaper (to say nothing of cleaner and healthier) than fossil fuels like coal and oil. And we now have the Internet that enables many-to-many communication. Today each of us can communicate directly with almost anyone else anywhere on the planet, at almost zero incremental cost.

What makes this current revolution particularly important and disruptive is that in both energy and communication the sources of power and information are no longer centralized. Oil and coal resources are located in specific places on the planet and thus subject to political boundaries and control; sunshine and wind are everywhere, and they are freely available to anyone who has the technology to capture and apply them.

Rifkin’s vision of our future includes an energy grid based on exactly the same underlying technology as the communication Internet; it will distribute energy from anywhere to anywhere, as it is needed. Clearly, getting from here – our current energy infrastructure – to Rifkin’s vision of an energy internet – is a long journey that will require massive investments in new technologies like energy storage and transmission. However, making that transition will lead not only to a cleaner, healthier planet, but to a vibrant new economy. “

The jobs that will be created to build local solar, wind and geothermal power sources will all be local; they can’t really be outsourced. Nor can the efforts to retrofit all the commercial and residential buildings across the United States, making them not only energy-efficient, but energy sources in their own right. A cornerstone of Rifkin’s vision is “every building a mini-power plant” because the sun shines everywhere, and the wind blows everywhere too.

The year 2018 may feel like the worst of times, but we are on the verge of an incredibly exciting and sustainable future.

This article courtesy of the Rossmoor News, May 23, 2018. Author James Ware can be emailed at jim@jimware.com

Link to Jeremy Rifkin’s book, Amazon

To The Ends of the Earth – July Film

July Film:  To the Ends of the Earth

When: Wednesday, July 11, 7:00-8:30 pm   Where: Peacock Hall 

(2016), 82 minutes

Sustainable Rossmoor will show TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH — a new film about extreme oil extraction deep under the Arctic, from the Alberta tar sands, and from oil shale under at the Colorado River headwaters. This award-winning film is narrated by Emma Thompson and details the environmental problems resulting from the use of extreme oil extraction technologies.  It also reveals the struggles of concerned citizens living at the destructive frontiers beyond traditional energy, and interviews those who fight for a different future with environmentally sensitive energy solutions.

In 2005, something unexpected happened, the growth of the traditional fossil fuel energy market stopped. The age of extreme energy was born. Unconventional energy extraction is defined by both the geology and the geography of a resource. All forms are technically difficult, energy intensive (requiring more energy to harvest than traditional methods), expensive, and pose serious environmental risks.

What do you do when the river catches fire?

The film bears witness to humanity’s descent further down the “resource pyramid.” At the top of the pyramid, energy is easy to find and cheap, and it requires minimal labor and has the highest capital and energy return on investment (EROI), as in the case of Saudi oil. In the middle of the pyramid, resources are more difficult and costly to extract, as is the case for mining the Alberta tar sands or hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. “Drill, baby, drill” has become “mine, baby, mine,” “steam, baby, steam,” and “frack, baby, frack.” At the bottom of the pyramid, there are energy resources such as Utah’s and Colorado’s oil shale, the economic feasibility of which, despite billions in investments, remains uncertain. Extreme energy is much less profitable, and there are diminishing returns on investment.

After 10 years of rather intensive global development,

unconventional resources now comprise 42% of the planet’s energy mix.

In the words of interviewee and author Richard Heinberg, “Given that 95% of all economic transactions in our globalized economy bear the footprint of fossil fuels, does this spell the end of economic growth for our civilization?”  We meet the people uniquely positioned to watch this global crossroads unfold, and who are fighting for something different.

The first site of extreme extraction revealed in the film is under the ice . . . at the ends of the earth – the Arctic Sea. The United States Geological Survey has given a 50% probability that there are 90 billion barrels of oil under the Arctic; that’s about 3 years of global energy consumption. With the decline in the price of oil, there has been a decrease in commercial interest, except for those nearby countries whose economies are heavily oil-dependent: Russia, Norway, and Canada. International companies including Chevron and Exxon-Mobile have multiple contracts in the Arctic with these countries.

In Arctic waters, oil exploration starts with seismic testing; large air guns send blasts aimed at the bottom of the ocean to determine the presence of oil. “Aside from nuclear explosions, these are the loudest man-made sounds. These shocks that happen every 12 seconds around the clock for months at a time, can be heard from 3,000 km away —basically over 1/2 of the Atlantic,” reports marine biologist Lindy Weilgart. She has been studying the effects of underwater sounds on whales, dolphins, narwalls, and other sea-life.

We meet the mayor of an Inuit village in Canada’s high Arctic (on Baffin Island) who is concerned that seismic testing for oil in the ocean is blowing out the eardrums of the seals and narwhals that the Inuit hunt to survive. There have been significant die-offs of these animals who are unable to find air holes in the ice or hunt for food when their own sonar systems are compromised. The Inuit people have taken the Canadian government to court for granting permits for seismic testing.

Next, the film tells the story of bitumen and the Albert tar sands oil industry. The Canadian film director, David Lavallee, has experienced first-hand the tragedies of Tar Sands mining. The production of oil there, consumes huge amounts of water and power – more than exists in Alberta. They must frack for natural gas and dam rivers in neighboring provinces for the resources needed to process the dirty tar sands, polluting the territories multi-fold and changing river life forever.  It has halted economic growth in the provinces. A new nuclear power plant is planned in Saskatchewan to keep up the pace.

The Alberta Tar Sands are the major source of oil used in the US and is the second largest source of energy production worldwide.  It is economically unsustainable.

We learn more about EROI, energy return on investment, by following the money and doing the math. The cost of energy investment to harvest oil more than doubled between 2005 to 2013 at the Tar Sands. This does not include the cost of water, or the dumping of tailings, the destruction of farmland, and so on.

We also learn that the world economy is built on investments dependent on expanding economies. As energy becomes more expensive, an economy built on fossil fuel energies will grind to a halt at some point. It cannot continue expanding. This will happen while there’s plenty of oil still in the ground, but much of the world’s earth, air, and water is fouled beyond repair. We learn about the concept of Degrowth — the slowing of the consumer society that will happen either by design or by disaster.

Burning oil shale, a rock that ignites, is an even more expensive source of energy. It is the resource that exists under the Grand Canyon and similar sites. It’s earned the label “extremely unconventional energy.” It has never shown a net profit.

As is true of every form of extreme extraction, environmental damage is necessary.

As of 2013, 15 million people in the United States lived within 1 mile of a frack well. The number has increased markedly since then.  Many million children attend school near frack wells. Typically, after 2 years, the well’s natural gas (methane) production decreases and it is no longer profitable. New wells are then drilled. All wells invariably leak. The methane can be seen from outer space, with the US fracking operations being the worst. Fracking is also extremely thirsty for water, and highly polluting of it. First Nations have been joined by others to fight pipelines, water permits, and port expansions. Natural gas was once heralded as a cleaner source of energy than coal.

The greenhouse footprint of natural gas is two to three times worse the coal

due to methane release into the atmosphere.

Switching to 100% renewable energy will not be enough. For the world to become sustainable, we’ll need to consume less. The film clarifies the economic effects — not just of energy and its extraction, but of growth and also degrowth. We might want to consider slowing of the consumer society by design rather than by disaster.

Watch the 2 minute trailer:  http://endsofearthfilm.com/

100 Percent Renewable Energy

Did you know 100 percent of your electricity could come from renewable sources with the click of your cursor? Or a phone call. Did you know you already are getting more clean energy than customers of PG&E?

Let’s first answer the question, who cares? You are saving money if you are getting your energy from MCE Clean Energy – just like 88 percent of the other residents of Walnut Creek do. PG&E charges more for their dirtier energy. Hard to believe, I know. Clean energy is from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Unless you took a special step to “opt out” of MCE, you are likely getting 50 percent clean energy at a rate 2-5 percent lower than PG&E’s 33 percent clean energy.

It might be confusing because you’re still getting a bill from PG&E. But, look at the one tiny line item that reads “electricity generation” and you’ll see MCE’s generation charge has replaced PG&E’s generation charge. This started in September 2016, but you probably didn’t notice. Ever since then, you’ve been saving money and getting cleaner energy coming to your home.

All about MCE

But the story gets better. MCE Clean Energy is a not-for-profit public agency without shareholders. Its governing board is made up of one elected council member from each participating city and one elected supervisor from each county in its jurisdiction (Contra Costa, Solano, Napa and Marin). All its meetings are open to the public and video-recordings are archived online. Revenue has been invested in a training center for green jobs, building local solar farms, energy efficiency programs, solar rebates for low-income residents and an extra benefit to customers with their own rooftop solar. In sum, MCE is both adding more clean energy to the grid and contributing to the local economy.

Maybe the most important reason to care about the cleaner energy option is because it helps us to reduce greenhouse gases. The basic MCE plan that everyone gets is the Light Green plan, but for an extra 1 cent per kilowatt-hour, anyone can “opt up” to MCE’s Deep Green plan, which provides electricity from 100 percent renewable sources. This costs the average homeowner $4.50/month but will vary depending on how much electricity you use.

Importantly, a person can “opt down” to Light Green (50 percent renewable) anytime one wants – maybe if one’s finances become tight. A Deep Green home reduces by over 1 metric ton the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere each year; that’s equivalent to driving 2,437 fewer miles using gasoline. The impact is even more impressive for those if us in Rossmoor who have all-electric manors.

But that’s just one home. A city council can vote to opt up its municipal accounts from 50 percent to 100 percent clean energy. It sets an important example for residents; in fact, when other cities have opted up their municipal accounts, the number of residents who do the same doubles within a few months, on average. It’s called the multiplier effect. Every city in the MCE service area opted up their municipal accounts last year, except Walnut Creek. Tsk. Tsk. And the statistics correlate.

Walnut Creek

Jenna Famular, MCE’s community development manager, showed a chart during Earth Awareness Week that revealed Larkspur had the most number of residents who had opted up, over 8 percent higher than any other city. Sadly, Walnut Creek is one of the lowest in the region at 1.3 percent. Our neighbor, Lafayette, with whom Walnut Creek City Council sometimes tries to compete in “greenness,” has 3.6 percent residents who are Deep Green customers. But behold! We in Rossmoor have 2.3 percent of our residents who have opted up to 100 percent clean energy. We are setting an example to others in our city. This is where you can help.

Request the Walnut Creek City Council to opt up its municipal accounts. This month, our city council will vote on a budget that could include opting up its municipal accounts. There’s a surplus on the city’s coffers that will more than cover this. It’s a small item for a city with a total budget of over $110,000,000. Write a letter to the city clerk at: lechuga@walnut-crerek.org and ask it to be distributed to all the council members.

UPDATE:  On May 15, 2018, the Walnut Creek City Council voted unanimously to opt up all the municipal accounts to 100% renewable energy!

The right thing to do

In addition to the multiplier effect, the city has made a promise to us. In its 2012 climate action plan (CAP), one of several environmental goals the council set was to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Opting up is the most cost-effective method to city can use to reach their goal for 2020. Furthermore, every year the city delays, increases the pollution. All these are the reasons every other city in MCE’s territory has opted up. We just celebrated Earth Day – it’s the right thing to do.

In addition, you don’t have to be a Sustainable Rossmoor member to join a delegation to appear at the council meeting in person. Contact me below to join a carpool.

What else can you do? Opt up to the Deep Green plan if you can afford it, even for a few months and join the Sustainable Rossmoor Living Lightly team: http://mcecleanenergy.org/livinglightly. Again, you don’t need to be a Sustainable Rossmoor member. Take a look at the website and see how we lead the region. This website allows you to click on “Enroll in Deep Green.” Scroll down to join the Sustainable Rossmoor Living Lightly team even if you opted up sometime ago – you too can join the team. Or call: 1-888-632-3674. This gives us more than bragging rights – it makes our air cleaner. It’s one simple way to reduce pollution, and reduce our health risks and those of our children and grandchildren.

This article first appeared in the May 9, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Carol Weed can be emailed at: carol4ofa@gmail.co