Monday, February 6, 2012

how do we harness America for the righteous cause?

This is actually from a couple years ago.

As I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Houston, Texas, the dynamic, energetic center of the hydrocarbon economy. My job brings me here because I work for a company that helps the big oil companies ‘gitter done’. Yeah; There is a lot of oil in the Middle East, and elsewhere, but the technology and boundless entrepreneurial zest of the U.S. has been the primary enabler for getting it out of the ground. I have an admiration for the competence, gutsiness, and business acumen which past generations brought to the challenge, even if it was not thought out too well for the long term, and has generated some Faustian bargains. But my puzzlement of late has been how will we bring this powerful force to bear on the real long term energy solution? I am all for efficiency and conservation, but we will still need a good bit of energy for even a sustainable economy. This will be a very big challenge. Are we up to it? Pres. Kennedy fired us up with the vision of getting to the moon as a driver for technology, but I think it was the fear of the red menace that really got the money flowing in to science and innovation. Pres. Carter talked about the moral equivalent of war to try to point out how important energy sustainability was and is. He had a knack for seeing the right things to focus on, but not knowing how to work the political machinery effectively, so that initiative was not successful. And now, the issue becomes ever more prominent in current events and the media, but who will drive the needed change? While we are to some extent spectators of the events on the world stage, we absolutely can take steps ourselves to begin transition to a sustainable future. I try to pick one or two things each year to try or change in how we do things.
Here is what my wife and I did to reduce our carbon footprint this year. Our old washing machine died, so we bought the front loading machine, which is supposed to be more energy efficient. I went on line and read up on the choices in Consumer Reports and the gov’t energy star website. Turns out the real efficiency is that when the wash and rinse are done, it spins the bejeezuz out of the clothes, so the dryer hardly has time to fire up and spin a few times before they are dry. It is working quite well, and didn’t really cost much more than a good quality top loader. But, that wasn’t enough for me. I did what few in suburbia would consider. I put up a clothes line. Now, truth be told, I was raised on a farm in the sticks, so everybody used clothed lines, and thought nothing of it. With the distance between neighbors, no one saw your underwear or faded dishtowels ( just how faded do you let them get before you toss them?). So I did have to think about that a bit. Some things we aren’t drying outside just yet. Anyway, that’s worked ok also. If we do laundry on a weekend, and it’s rainy, well we just use the dryer. What about you, would you put up a clothes line? Is there anyone in your neighborhood with a clothes line? Does your town even allow them? Talk about free solar energy, this is low hanging fruit we could all be bending over to take from the laundry basket.

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