Jerry Brown’s Plan to Increase Energy Efficiency

Like many of us, California Attorney General Jerry Brown is concerned about the world’s energy appetite and its repercussions for the environment (see our Aug. 20 post). Brown is one of several national leaders invited by “The Wall Street Journal” to share his ideas on how to allocate dwindling resources to solve the world’s problems.

“The cost of energy in the United States, on an annual basis, has now soared beyond $1 trillion,” says Brown. Concerned about the potential dangers of continuing to rely on foreign oil, Brown recommends:

  • instituting federal energy efficiency regulations and programs, and
  • creating financial incentives to encourage both individuals and businesses to embrace energy efficient measures.

Brown would use successful California energy programs as a model for a national program. He notes, “California has kept its per capita electrical consumption flat for the past 25 years — in significant part through appliance and building standards and incentives to adopt ways that get more work out of less energy.” Brown recommends setting tough but practical energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment based on the best available technology.

Brown also recommends establishing efficiency standards for new buildings; a system of rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives; increased research and development funding of new technologies and fuel sources; and tough federal and state regulations. (Click here to read Brown’s complete response.)

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How Would You Use U.S. Resources to Save the World?

On its opinion page “The Wall Street Journal” has sparked debate among top political and business leaders on how to allocate our diminishing resources to solve the world’s growing problems. Their challenge: “How would you spend $10 billion of American resources (either directly or through regulation) over the next four years to help improve the state of the world?”

California Attorney General Jerry Brown warns that America must act to curb its energy appetite now, before it’s too late:

“The world is facing a triple threat of unprecedented dimensions,” says Brown. “First, the loss of cheap and easily discovered oil; second, explosive energy demand from China, India and other emerging countries as they rapidly improve their standard of living; and third, the climate disruptions caused by CO2 and other greenhouse gases. None of the three will go away. In fact, each will get progressively worse unless we take decisive action, without delay.” 

“The cost of energy in the United States, on an annual basis, has now soared beyond $1 trillion,” Brown warns. “Our massive purchases of foreign oil represent perhaps the greatest transfer of wealth from one people to another in all human history. And, paradoxically, this wealth transfer is from a far more technologically advanced nation to poorer countries — some unstable and hostile . . . Wake up America! We must stop the hemorrhaging of our national treasure, and we need to do it now.”

Next time: Jerry Brown’s Solution

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Congress Girding for Oil Fight

Congress is girding for an oil fight that could shut down the federal government. Republicans are tired of being stonewalled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and are planning to go on the attack when Congress reconvenes on September 8. At stake is the vote on domestic oil drilling that would allow offshore drilling in American waters.

Republicans want to allow offshore drilling and oil-shale development. Democrats don’t. Bans on both are set to expire at the end of September. Democrats are expected to include an extension of the bans in the temporary funding measure that Congress must pass when it returns. If Republicans vote to deny the extension by defeating the funding measure, the federal government will be forced to shut down on September 30 until Congress approves temporary funding.

Both sides of the aisle are playing hardball. Republicans say citizens squeezed by high gas prices and escalating grocery bills are ready to support offshore drilling despite the environmental risks. Democrats are banking that in an election year Republicans won’t want to disrupt government services, including veterans’ benefits, social security payments and government-backed home loans. It’s a game of political “chicken” with America’s coastline in the loser’s seat.

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Are Possible Water Wars Just Overblown Hype?

Are dire predictions of future water wars just overwrought environmentalists fanning the flames of fear? You be the judge.

By 2025, the United Nations estimates that two-thirds of the world’s population will live where water is scare. Unsafe drinking water kills more than 2 million people each year. This year, drought across swaths of Africa created waves of refugees. Some neighboring countries closed their borders, afraid refugees would overwhelm their meager resources. 

Water is a basic human need. Without it we die. Just one percent of the Earth’s water is accessible and drinkable. With a world population in excess of 6 billion, all competing for each drop of water, the potential for conflict is real. We already wage war over oil which is not essential to human survival. Water is.

The recent pact by Great Lake border states and Canadian provinces ensuring them control over 95% of America’s fresh surface water (see our Aug. 13 post) is a telling example of what’s to come. The pact came in response to a Canadian businessman’s attempt to send an annual 158 million gallons of lake water to drought-stricken parts of Asia. Last October, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson further alarmed border states by suggesting Great Lakes water could solve growing water problems in the Southwest.

“There will be a water crisis,” said Ohio State Representative Matthew Dolan. “When it happens, we want to make sure our waters are protected and we have the fundamental last say in the use of our water.”

If this is the response of the usually staid Midwest, imagine what an unstable nation filled with desperate, thirsty people might do. War is not out of the question.

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Great Lakes States Prepare for Water Wars

The Great Lakes hold one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water and 95% of the fresh surface water in the U.S. With droughts and the population shift from the Midwest into southern and western states, the eight states and two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes are sitting on a potential gold mine — and they aim to keep it for themselves.

Water, or “blue gold,” is predicted to become a hot commodity in coming decades (see our Aug. 11 post) which means that those who control the enormous amount of water contained in the Great Lakes will wield enormous power. That thought has apparently crossed the minds of Midwest politicians. All states and provinces contiguous to the lakes have entered into the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact to ensure that water will not be diverted outside the Great Lakes basin by pipeline or tanker.

Border states concerned about the effects of climate change don’t want southern and western states trying to tap into the Great Lakes as their own water sources dry up. “The value of potable water is expected to increase significantly during this century,” warns Peter Annin, author of The Great Lakes Water Wars. While shipping Great Lakes water is considered unrealistically expensive today, the former Newsweek correspondent reminds us that we once felt that way about shipping oil overseas.

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Droughts, Pollution Could Spark Water Wars

Water wars? World leaders and military strategists are already planning for a day when the Earth’s most abundant resource — water — becomes more precious than oil. Mankind can survive without oil, but water is essential to life. Climate change, pollution and a growing world population could make water the most valuable commodity on Earth.

  • Environmentalists fear that as global warming sparks climate change, droughts will occur more frequently in heavily populated areas.
  • Unchecked industrial pollution and agricultural runoff threatens the safety of fresh water supplies.
  • A growing world population is already straining water supplies in some regions. California already pipes in water from over the Rockies. Great Lakes states are planning for future water sharing.

“We are definitely leaving the century of oil behind, and we are entering the century of water,” warns Peter Annin, author of The Great Lakes Water Wars. While 70% of our planet is covered with water, only 3% is fresh water, the kind we drink and use. Most of the world’s fresh water is unavailable, frozen in the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers. A mere 1% of the world’s fresh water is available for man’s use, and there are more than 6 billion of us competing for every drop of water.

Water — who has it and who needs it — is expected to become an increasingly pivotal issue in global politics in coming decades. Many fear drought-caused water shortages could ignite the political fuse that sparks the next world war.

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FINALLY

Finally the industrialized world is beginning to wake up. That’s the good news. The bad news, we overslept. But better late then never. Furthermore, I have learned that you will never get anyone to buy something until they are ready. Finally the industrialized world is ready to do something about climate change. That means we are finally beginning to get some interest in the EARTH-SHIP idea. It won’t be long now. Please stay in touch. I want to personally invite anyone who reads this blog to visit the first EARTH-SHIP and sail with us as we attempt to increase global awareness for global warming.

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I’m Not The First To Think It

I’m not the first to think it, but I might be the first to put it in print.Every single indicator of human well being that I can find, I’m talking globally here, has a negative slope. In other words, things don’t look like they are going to get better any time soon. Add to that the fact that climate change is, for all intents and purposes, unstoppable at this point, and just as unstoppable is the less developed world when it comes to making more babies, and together we have a mess on our hands. The fabric of modern civilization is beginning to show signs of wear. So what do we do? Are we doomed to do what every other civilization has done before ours, and that is to slide off the map and into oblivion just because we were too stupid, or, in our case, too arrogant to heed the environmental warnings Mother Nature is sending us. I fear that is the case. But I also have faith in humanity, the younger ones in particular. If you are one of those younger people, take a look at our web site. We think we can make a difference, but we need you help. Check out www.earth-ship.org. Get on board. Do something.

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The Problem is NOT Just Global Warming

The earth is continuing to store more heat thanks to excessive CO2 in the atmosphere. As a result, we are already beginning to experience food shortages as witnessed by the recent spikes in food prices. We are also beginning to experience water shortages as experienced by the decrease in the levels of aquifers all around the world. Then there is the drought, and floods and more sever storms. Oh yes, I forgot, we are also adding about 75 million people to the planet every year. That’s just like adding another Mexico to the planet every year.  Unfortunately, the earth’s land mass is not increasing. Where are these people going to go? Where will they live, work, raise a family and so on. The bottom line is that the earth is like a train, a very long train, and each country is represented by one of the 200 or so cars on the train. There are a couple of cars that sill have some seats left, but every other car has people hanging out of the windows AND a long line still waiting to board. The really bad news is that the train as started to roll down hill. The hill is getting steeper and steeper and the train will eventually pick up speed. Unfortunately, the earth-train does not have anyone at the controls. Each car on the train is only worried about itself. So what is going to happen? With no one at the controls how fast will the train be going when it hits the wall at the bottom of the hill. I will tell you how fast and what we can do to stop it in my next entry. Stay tuned.

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General Electric Can See the Problem, So Why Can’t You?

Jeffery Immelt is the CEO of General Electric. At the recent Wall Street Journal ECOnomics conference in Goleta, CA, Immelt said he doesn’t understand critics of government tax credits for renewable energy.My guess is that Mr. Immelt does understand why the US does not offer tax credits for renewable energy sources, while at the same time offering subsidizes to the oil and gas industry. The answer is simple and I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Mr. Immelt voted for it, I mean him.GW Bush, i.e., Global Warming Bush and his ilk are tied so closely to the oil and gas industry that it would take a surgeon to separate them.Maybe the election in November will provide the US with a leader who will have the wisdom and the courage to steer the US, and the world, down a more sustainable path. At this point I don’t really care who is elected. Whoever it is almost has to be smarter, more courageous and not tied as closely to the oil and gas industry as Bush is. The world will be a better place when GW Bush is gone.

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