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Power To The People. September 16, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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I’m a big fan of renewable energy, a believer in climate change as a byproduct of human activity, and a charter member of the Small Is Beautiful school of going forward into the future.

Hey, I’m little, what can I say?

Anyway, my town hosts the Berkshire East ski area. It’s about the main thing happening here in winter, we being without a large tax base, and they recently erected a wind turbine which sits across the river and up the hill from my house, and purportedly generates enough power to account for the entire B’East operation.

As a guy who spent a long winter making snow at said enterprise, I can attest to the amount of power involved in a snow making operation – pumping a lake’s worth of water to the top of that mountain every night, then blowing it through airplane props at high psi’s, and with high voltage lines powering it all. It’s a much longer story than that, but that’s what’s relevant to tonight’s post.

Berkshire East has a new project going up on their mountaintop, parked perilously at the line dividing Charlemont from the town of Hawley. I’m sure its location makes things politically messy, but I hope it navigates those shoals to form a more perfect union of form and function and of local entities taking care of their own needs.

The solar farm being built atop Mount Institute:

The Berkshire East wind turbine is visible above the notch in the trees near the right edge of this photo.

This is a major commitment of previously forested land to local production of energy, and doesn’t fall below my radar of environmental impact. But if you’ve seen real life images from “mountaintop removal” mining in West Virginia, this is definitely the kid-glove version of power production.

Plus, it’s local, meaning that energy doesn’t have to be transmitted from a great distance at a considerable loss.

I know, I’ve barely scratched the surface in talking about this incredibly complex problem, but I’m leaning hard toward local production of power, and on a scale which doesn’t necessitate the involvement of mega-national corporations, though the big players do indeed weasel their bad selves into these local projects.

At any rate, I’m a firm believer in doing things locally in so far as they’re practical, and not taking Corporate America’s appraisal of the situation at face value. Whenever we’re told that something “can’t be done like that, not on that scale,” we should identify the source of that viewpoint and be aware of how such statements serve their financial interests.

And when there are things which benefit us all and can’t be done on a small scale, I posit that We The People ought to pool our resources through the mechanism of Government to do them collectively.

It isn’t Socialism, folks – it’s civilization.

How Green Is Your Garbage June 8, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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The bad news:

The oceans are warming, Greenland is melting, the Puddle is rising, and our Executive Ship of Fools is derailing the whole rest of the world’s attempts to fix it. And now you’re stuck behind this:

…and it’s crawling through your neighborhood, noisy, reeking, belching diesel fumes and untold tons of CO2…

The good news:

Northampton, Massachusetts just awarded it’s municipal trash collection contract to Pedal People, an extraordinary group of ordinary people who have made a going business out of putting their quadricepses where their mouths are, and for the betterment of the Whole. Damned. World.

This four-season enterprise uses granola-fed humans on bicycles to do many of the jobs we lazy folks have long assumed were impractical or even impossible without the modern gas (or diesel) engine. They transport people, deliver groceries, move furniture, and now, they transport Northampton’s trash to strategically located compacting dumpsters. Yes, there’s still machinery involved in the final move to the landfill, but you won’t have to be stuck behind a garbage truck on your little side-street.

This development has numerous advantages over the system it’s replacing: reductions in air pollution, noise pollution, sight pollution, traffic congestion and global warming, to name the obvious ones. And I can’t help but imagine that the people doing this work are stronger and healthier for it, whereas the average truck driver or ‘Momback is decidedly not.

Obviously this system wouldn’t work everywhere, such as in exceedingly rural areas or really dense urban areas which generate tons of trash in small areas, but I can’t imagine why most of America’s suburbs wouldn’t benefit from something like this. If you live in a small city or suburban area, visit Pedal People’s website, read about them, and consider bringing this idea up among friends, at town meetings or in whatever public forum you have available to you.

Real individuals can make a difference.

Real individuals must make a difference.