September 17, 2010

Something Simple & Beautiful … Take Action Now

All it takes sometimes is a simple reminder to wake up.  I’ve been blessed to participate in the American Renewable Energy Day in Aspen recently.  With gratitude to Chip Comins and Sally Ranney for their extraordinary work to produce a timely and powerful gathering of caring hearts and brilliant minds, all working toward solutions to our energy and climate crisis.

Our concerns about clean energy meet the political system in our own back yard!  In Boulder, Colorado, we’re doing our best to get rid of our neighborhood Coal plant – check out what’s being done and copy it! Every dirty, polluting, coal- fired electrical generating station can be converted or shut down, one at a time through citizen activism. Lest we forget, coal wedded to electricity is a for profit business. Most operations are investor owned “public utilities”. Now, there’s a paradox for you. In Boulder, our energy provider is called Xcel – it’s weird, I have a hard time trusting companies that have X’s in their name (like Exxon for example). Has that been your experience?  Xcel has an interesting “responsible by nature” advertising campaign – most would argue it’s classic green washing. They are trying, but we all know they could do better!  Change is never easy, but always necessary.  We don’t need to demonize them, but they consistently require powerful encouragement from their customers to clean up their act! Colorado now has a 30% renewable energy standard – that’s a small step in the right direction. We can all do better! A new study from the National Renewable Energy Lab near Golden, Colorado demonstrates that we have the capacity to generate 80% of the entire nation’s electrical energy demands from clean, renewable sources. It’s a matter of will.

Check out what you can do in your neighborhood, find out where your electricity is coming from and take action, you’re life will never be dull, once you decide to get engaged in changing the status quo! If we all bought electric cars without appreciating where the electricity is coming from and the kind of batteries being used, we’ll be no better off than before. When we plug those little hummers in at night, we’ll be living in an utter delusion, if we think we’re solving our energy/climate crisis.

A deeper issue…

In my opinion, here is the most simple, beautiful and profound “take away” from the entire American Renewable Energy Day gathering in Aspen.  If each of us could take this to heart and behave accordingly, many of our environmental challenges would diminish, if not disappear altogether.   Every morning  Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota People offered a prayer for the conference attendees.

Arvol Looking Horse, The 19th Generation White Buffalo Calf pipe bundle carrier - photo credit, Hinton Harrison

His simple yet powerful reminder to all of us is this:

“The Earth is the source of life, not a resource”.

This may be difficult for the extractive industry crowd to embrace, however, it is time to  re-examine our basic assumptions about how we, as humans, interact with this living world. Sure, we need resources to live, however it’s time to re-evaluate all of our assumptions, if we desire a quality of life worth living now and in the immediate future. Perhaps our challenge and opportunity is as simple and beautiful as opening our hearts and loving the Earth. Truly honoring Great Nature – People will protect what they love.  As I was listening to Arvol’s   prayer for us to wake up. I was reminded of the powerful TV spot from nearly a generation ago. 

This advertisement was produced for the Keep America Beautiful Campaign 39 years ago featuring Iron Eyes Cody.  Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) used to be a required and mandated by law responsibility of all broadcast stations to serve the best interests of society – for free!  Unfortunately, ever since the Reagan era of deregulation and “trickle down economics”, these messages are no longer free.

At that time, in 1971, pollution and littering was the focus of concern.  Well, we seem to have lost the capacity to connect the proverbial dots.  That’s why the AREDAY team has launched The CLIMATE AND ENERGY  LITERACY INITIATIVE – you can find out more from [email protected] ! Humans are still polluting the atmosphere today and one of the most egregious culprits is burning fossil fuels for our energy and electricity – a little reminder here – there is no such thing as “clean coal”.   Do you know where your electricity comes from?

Who’s up for re-creating some new public service announcements and getting PSA’s back as a free pubic service?

With PSA’s back as a free service and this kind of clever creativity from the Coen Brothers and others, we could harness and leverage the truth about coal and compete with the financial war chests of the Merchants of Doubt

You can get involved directly with the Alliance for Climate Protection nationally, or here in Boulder, CO with the Clean Energy Action group!

It’s time to generate the grass roots political will to convert our entire electrical energy grid to green, clean and renewable electrons coming from sources other than coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear NOW, not a decade from now!  We can do this and we must do this for the benefit of all life!  It’s time to frame the issue in a manner that transcends political dividing lines and effectively overcomes opposition based upon selfish “turf protection”.  You don’t even have to believe in Global Climate Change to know that a conversion to clean energy is good for jobs, good for the economy, good for national security and most importantly, good for your health and our entire biosphere.  If you agree, leave a comment for me and pass this along to your network – if you don’t agree with the need to change, convince me you have an insight that will inform my discretion  – let’s talk!

Ahead with Courage.

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