A blunt discussion about energy and the future of our society

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More articles like this need to be written and read: Wake Up, America. We’re Driving Toward Disaster.

It calls out the idea that our current lifestyle is not up for negotiation in the efforts to save the planet and build a sustainable society. The author is correct that it will need to change. We’ve had a free ride for 60-ish years so far and it’s obviously going to be changing somehow in the near future.

The other point is that the notion of “peak oil” isn’t a single event as is often portrayed. Absolutely every aspect of our lifestyle is driven by oil. We’ve seen a hint at the stresses on economies recently caused by $4/gallon and $1.20/L gas in North America. Just imagine what will happen when that reaches $10/gallon. I’m not saying we won’t find a way to fix it, but ignoring the problem isn’t helping us get there and ultimately will be worse. We could be taking small steps to help prepare for that now and make the transition easier, like trying to improve the dying North American rail system and mass transit.

I think the only way we will be able to sustain our lifestyle is if a technology is found for creating massive amounts of electricity, or perhaps huge solar infrastructure. However, those are all in the sci-fi stage of development so cannot be counted on.

How to get the most sustainability out of your stuff

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There’s a new article posted over at YouSustain: Get the most sustainability out of your stuff. It has 22 tips on how to squeeze the most out of the stuff we already own, rather than buying new. I still think buying new is often the best way to go, but it’s not always an option.

Please give it a read, share it, and feel free to send in any other tips you can think of!

McCain wants Q and A sessions for President in Congress

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Cheers to McCain, he’s apparently not totally senile yet: McCain urges UK-style sessions for U.S. president.

I’ve been saying for years I think that’s one of the missing ingredients in modern American politics. The media was intended to question the executive branch, but as we’ve seen it’s basically non-existent, mostly because the White House gets to choose which reporters are let in and often have to submit questions ahead of time.

Now, it is true that “question period” in Canada and the UK often degenerates into name-calling. But, if there are even a few sane minutes of the period I think it’s worth it. Plus, perhaps the US could handle question period in a more dignified way.

If the US did have a question period, perhaps on the eve of the Iraq invasion Bush might have been asked a harder question than “How is your faith helping you through this time?” (Which is a perfectly valid question but not at a national press conference when the country is about to begin an operation that will kill hundreds of thousands of people. Save that question for the puff-piece one-on-one interviews.)

I hope Obama pledges to do the same.

Choosing green companies

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I’ve always thought one of the most effective way we can force change in our consumer-driven society is by voting with our wallets. If you don’t like what a company stands for then don’t give them any money.

So, I’m very happy to see a new tool to help this: Climate Counts: Company Scorecard. It rates about 50 large corporations on their green commitment. I hope they will expand to include more companies in the future.

Boycotting companies we don’t like is obviously effective, but a lot of people do think it’s extreme for some reason. I do sometimes get funny looks when I say I prefer to not shop at Walmart, for example. Also, it does get tough to remember all the companies to not solicit, so the list never grows beyond a handful.

Maybe as a reaction to this I’ve lately found myself thinking in terms of anti-boycotts (the first time I’ve heard that term but it’s apparently real according to Wikipedia). I mean the act of actively seeking to solicit companies you do want to support. Some examples for me are Whole Foods, Google and Toyota for their contributions to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Are you a Sustainability Guru?

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Over at YouSustain we have put together a fun and educational little quiz game on sustainable and green topics. It can be reached here: Are you a Sustainability Guru?.

Head on over and give it a try. It’s fun and we’ve had an excellent reaction to it so far. If you enjoy it, share it with some friends to see who can get the highest score!

We would also like to hear any feedback you have.