Seattle is having a cold snap. It's 25 degrees outside. Our rare freezing winter days correspond with equally rare clear winter skies. Days like this make me wish I had a solar powered home that could harvest and store that free burst of energy for later use. The bottom line is that American homes are just too large to be cost effectively heated with solar energy. The push has been to get the cost of solar panels down. But, what would you get if you crossed an expensive solar heating and cooling system with an optimally sized home? By optimal, I mean not larger than you need. You would get an affordable solar powered home like the one shown above (click here to see the details). By affordable, I mean in the $150-200 thousand range excluding land, sewer, and water systems. Picture the north face with fancy wood and slate trim, a deck off of the loft doubling as a carport, double french doors, and lots and lots of windows (and window plugs). Essentially, this is a well insulated 10 x 40-foot park model trailer stocked with highly energy efficiency dual mode gas/electric appliances, and lots of diode lighting under a standardized solar energy system optimized for a given area of the country. Picture an entire neighborhood (or trailer park or commune) of these all facing south. Ninety percent of the people on this planet would jump at the chance to live in a home like that. Home size is relative, dependent on wealth and how far the "my house is bigger than yours" arms race has progressed. It's all a matter of perception.
Forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis, where he was assassinated, to help support the long struggle of the city's sanitation workers for decent jobs and dignity. He was also speaking out against the Vietnam War, organizing a Poor People's March on Washington, and crafting an Economic Bill of Rights, calling for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. In Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, the last book he released before he was killed, he wrote: There is a need for a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society ... For the evils of racism, poverty and militarism to die, a new set of values must be born. Our economy must become more person-centered than property-and profit-centered. Our government must depend more on its moral power than on its military power. Let us, therefore, not think of our movement as one that seeks to integrate the Negro into all the existing values of American society. Let us be those creative dissenters who call our beloved nation to a higher destiny. Today, the struggles for economic and racial justice must merge with the struggle to stop global warming. Its worst effects will be visited on the poor, and the great economic opportunity a clean energy future offers should be shared fairly with them. Equal protection and equal opportunity was what King demanded in the 1960s. We should be demanding the same today.
So Kansas state House member Larry Powell has sent a copy of Fred Singer's lame denier treatise, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, to every Kansas legislator. Of course, he sent one to Governor Sebelius, who denied a permit for two large coal-fired power plants in his home county. Since I've been blogging regularly on Kansas, Kansas reporter Sarah Kessinger called me Friday for my opinion on Singer's book and what legislators should do to become informed on climate. The book has been widely debunked -- see this post on RealClimate. The most absurd thing about the book is that ... wait for it ... the Earth wasn't actually in a warm trend -- unstoppable or otherwise -- 1500 years ago! (Yes, during the Medieval Warm Period, parts of the earth were a bit warmer, but that peaked [below current temperatures] 1,000 years ago.) I thought the reporter would like that fact: "I don't think there's anybody in the scientific community who takes Fred Singer seriously," said Joseph Romm, a Washington scientist and author. Romm said the 1,500-year cycle theory isn't possible considering the earth wasn't in a warming trend 1,500 years ago. Duh! I mean, seriously: Every book contains at least a few small errors, but most real scientists, heck, even most global warming deniers try to avoid putting egregious factual mistakes in the title of the book. That is a pretty good sign you can skip the contents.
This ranks up there (and could have been included) with Bill Maher's terrific book, When you ride alone, you ride with Bin Laden.
Land is -- and will always be -- expensive. Which is why someone should take this, and combine it with this. They could even sell the electricity back to DWR, whic uses an incredible amount of it to pump LA's drinking water up and over the Tehachapis. And if DWR would allow project developers to monetize the water savings from avoided evaporative loss, project economics would be even better.
A Washington Post columnist:
Speaking of reasons climate legislation is going to be impossible this year: It’s good to see the Washington Post pick up on the coal industry’s massive lobbying effort. The focus is Americans for Balanced Energy …
Investment in clean-tech companies rose 44 percent from 2005 to 2006, and jumped an additional 44 percent from 2006 to 2007, soaring to $5.18 billion, according to the Cleantech Group LLC. Last year in clean-tech, …
In a partnership with Live Earth (yes, they’re still doing stuff), Absolut Vodka has launched a Global Cooling campaign that "encourages consumers to reduce the effects of global warming by offering simple steps they can …
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