I have read literally hundreds of articles about solar manufacturing,
new windmill technology, algae biodiesel and the like; the supposed
cutting edge of the new energy economy. And while I am an unabashed
technophile, I keep coming back to the wisdom of "conservation
first". Reduction before production.
There are brilliant engineers developing excellent technology all the
time, but the major energy issues we face are often better solved by
inexpensive (read: free) changes in behavior, not changes in solar
panel coatings. It can take years before we see good reliable electric
cars or install one of these new helical wind turbines on our own
roof. We can, however, immediately save money and the planet through
conservation. Efficient lightbulbs aside, just paying attention to our
energy habits alone can lower our own utility bills 40% or more.
The trouble seems to be the fact that for most, conservation is not
half as sexy as a new solar panel or a new Tesla electric roadster.
How can we make conservation sexier, more fun, and more rewarding?
Seriously, I don't know how we do this or even if this is the right
question. But I know for a fact that we can't wait 5 years for cheap
solar in order to make changes.
We voted for Obama's promise of change, but are we going to wait until
2012 to walk our environmental talk? Are we hoping that the new $35
billion bailout of The Big Three car manufacturers will magically put
a Chevy Volt in our driveway this Christmas?
I submit to you that we cannot wait, and that hoping for an
engineering miracle is not as good a use of our time as insulating our
homes and sealing our leaky ducts. How we can see that behavior as
cool and rewarding is the trick. Help us all out with some
suggestions. The clock is indeed ticking.