Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

YES WE CAN (Fight Climate Change)

This was previously published on the website.

There is no doubt we face huge challenges ahead.

What’s exciting to see is a real profound shift in many people’s mood after the inauguration of Barak Obama. Everyone seems energized with what is possible, and hopefully are ready to deal with the reality of the world, and deal with it in a positive and constructive way.

My enthusiasm for the new president was tempered with my perceptions of the enormity of the task he faces. And then I got completely enthusiastic watching a NOVA show on PBS last week. The show was called “The Big Energy Gamble” and you can actually watch it on line. It was excellent!

And interesting enough, it focused a lot on Governor Schwarzenegger and California’s commitment to renewable energy. I found the show really “energizing” and it left me very enthused for the potential in renewables.

The interesting thing was it kept coming back to interview Steven Chu, and at first I had no idea who he was. Every time he finished an interview I was thinking, “Yes, this guy gets it! We need more people like Steven Chu.” Then I picked up my Macleans magazine, and there he was, featured as Obama’s new energy minister!

Eureka! Hallelujah! Not only have we thrown the big oil, big coal climate change deniers out, we’re replacing with them a crew that really seem to grasp the enormity of the problem and feel there are solutions. Well of course there are solutions. We run our business and our home off-the-electricity-grid on solar and wind, so there’s no question we can do it on a national level, we just need the will. And in the US right now the political will is there!

Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize winning physicist who has been a real advocate of alternative energy and is very opposed to corn-based ethanol. So Obama has placed a man of science in a key role. As energy secretary, Chu is on record as having concerns about Canada’s tar sands, which is good. After reading “Tar Sands Dirty Oil and The Future of a Continent” by Andrew Nikiforuk I am appalled at their environmental impact.

Obama has created a new “climate czar”, appointing Carol Browner who was Bill Clinton’s Environmental Protection Agency Chair. And he has appointed a climate scientist from Harvard, John Holdren, as his top science adviser.

How great is this! It’s like the sun is finally shining after 8 lost years! Luckily you had state governments like California that ignored the black hole in Washington to press forward with their own initiatives. I believe 400 US Mayors signed up to commit their cities to meet the Kyoto Protocol. And homeowners throughout the US just kept putting up solar panels and wind turbines and making their homes more efficient, much to the chagrin of the US Federal Government.

It sounds like there will be a lot of money committed to the renewable energy infrastructure in the latest Obama stimulus program. This is a great thing. This is how you wean yourself from having to import Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from places like Iran that do not call themselves friends of the United States.

It’s exciting to see how quickly the renewable energy industry is growing in the US. When we moved to this off-the-grid home the previous owner, Jean Stawarz, left us a number of issues of “Homepower Magazine.”
They were thin, faded black and white issues printed on a yellowing newsprint, put together by people who seemed to very much personify the hemp wearing, granola eating, unshaven hippies who started this industry. Today Homepower is a glossy magazine packed to the gills with good information and tons of ads for the huge number of companies producing superb products for the renewable energy industry. Solar installers today all seem to have clean and shiny uniforms, and tuxedo-model good looks! Just another reason to join the industry!

The business is doing so well, that they have spun off a new magazine called “SolarPro” devoted more to the professional installer who wants more information on the current trends than a home owner might. Can you imagine! A magazine devoted to people who work full time installing solar equipment!

Yes, the sun is shining once again on the United States, and it looks like more and more Americans are going to have solar panels on their roofs to capture that sunlight and turn it into clean, green, hot water and electricity! And since we’re celebrating the birthplace of capitalism, I shall put in my plug that there is no better one-stop resource to learn about renewable energy than Bill Kemp’s “Renewable Energy Handbook!” It’s North America’s best selling renewable energy book, and it takes you through the whole process of energy efficiency to renewables to make your home greener, all in one spot!

Can we save the planet from climate change? YES WE CAN!

Can you reduce your carbon footprint with renewable energy? YES YOU CAN!

Can you call your local renewable energy dealer tomorrow and get them out to your house to get those solar panels on your roof you’ve been thinking of? YES YOU CAN! YES YOU SHOULD!


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