Rallying for Efficiency and Renewable Energy - EmPower Solar

Rallying for Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Guest Post by Glenn Drost, Long Island resident and energy consultant

It was a cold and windy day, but the speakers at the “Forward on Climate” rally ignited passion and energy for the movement. Specifically, we asked the President to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline planned to run from Alberta, Canada to Texas and to take real action instead to prevent climate change.

Tar sands oil extraction, refinement, and combustion are highly carbon intensive, which would exasperate existing concerns that climate change is a result of burning these greenhouse gasses. The pipeline also poses yet another risk for an oil spill. Jacqueline Thomas, chief of Saik’uz First Nation, spoke of the many oil related disasters that have occurred in North America. She asked us to aspire to one ideal: “When we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.”

“The fight against fracking, coal ports, and taking the tops off mountains is ultimately the fight for a living planet,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, “Our theme has to be, that when you are in a hole, stop digging. Above all, stop the Keystone Pipeline,” he added.

“It’s clear that climate change is real and that people are starting to wake up to that fact,” said Matthew Kearns, Clean Energy for Long Island and Sierra Club member. “That was proven by [Sunday’s] attendance, which included two buses of almost 100 Long Islanders, The thought of continuing to burn fossil fuels and its effects on our planet can be a frightening one, but what is promising is that clean energy solutions are real and obtainable. The missing piece to this puzzle is the political will to help speed up the transition from our old, dirty economy to a healthy and renewable future.”

Unfortunately, even if the president rejects the pipeline, the tar sands oil will likely make it to U.S. markets anyway. The pipeline is not the only way it can be transported. It’s just the most profitable. Therefore, we as citizens must ultimately decide for ourselves where our energy is coming from, and how much of it we want to use. We have the power to do that with every dollar we spend on energy today.

Metropolitan New Yorkers are quite heavy users of home heating oil, and of course gasoline and diesel fueled automobiles. We must combat these practices with education on the benefits of energy reduction and efficiency improvements. Very simple air-sealing measures in homes can increase comfort and decrease fuel consumption. Decisions about how far and how often to drive can be planned ahead of time, and fuel consumption brought to a minimum.

On the supply side, we must also help people understand that there are alternatives to oil today that not only pollute less, but cost less! When financed over time, renewable energy offers significant savings when compared to fossil fuel sources. Solar power offers tremendous savings on electricity bills. Solar can also supply an electric car with energy for much less than the cost of gasoline. Electric heating systems are coming back into the mainstream with increased reliability of air source heat pumps. Ground source heat pumps also offer tremendous operational cost savings if the area for wells is available.

Efficiency auditors, solar, and geothermal installers are quite busy these days on Long Island and New York City. Residents are beginning to take advantage of the economic advantages of energy efficiency and renewable resources. All we have to do is keep spreading the word!

*The views represented by the guest writer do not represent the views of EmPower Solar. We invite guest posts with different perspectives and opinions in order to attain more knowledge about energy and environmental issues. The better informed we are, the better decisions we can make.

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