Transition Whatcom

I am a new member.  It is nice to see an interest group in this area, after all energy is what runs the world and fossil fuels have proven to be a dead-end especially in their mega-industrial usage levels.  


Being a small yet growing group it would be hard to accomplish much in the innovations level - i.e., original and creative innovations.  Of course, that should not stop us from trying and we should not underestimate potential local talents.  However, I think the major focus should be on discovering and propagating technologies that not only fit the goal of sustainability but also are simple to implement and maintain, often use the ''waste'' or unrecognized sources of energy, are adaptable to the local resources and ecology with the initial cost / cost of maintenance and repair / energy efficiency / ''real'' cost of waste and disposal to the greater planet all factored in.


People in ''underdeveloped'' countries like India, Latin America, Africa etc. have been experimenting with such designs and innovations out of necessity for years but we should not expect to find them in the commercial stores that are pervasive - because they are often made by the poor and for the poor and offer little or no profit.  I would love to see a group such as this try to gather such innovations in an archive (the Biogas and Bicycle power generation look like great ideas).  Visiting some rural villages in India (for those of us who can) could be great field trip discovering such ideas in action.  


In a more strict scientific approach it would be nice, after gathering some promising projects, to do a feasibility study considering all the factors mentioned above and choose the best (most energy efficient, ''real cost-effective'', and most adaptable to local resources and dynamics) before doing a cooperative pilot-project with the intention of wider adoption.


Conservation technologies should always be considered first as they are they are often the most efficient form of energy management.  Here too scientifically-based independent feasibility studies (based on social rather than private science and capital) could best assess their values.  Many previously considered green technologies such as ''solar'' and ''wind'' and ''biofuel'' may not pan out (as they often replace one problem or one cost for another) but each specific technology needs to be addressed individually rather than lumped under ''alternative'', or ''solar'' / etc. ''good'' or ''bad''.  That is the advantage of a truly scientific approach (analytical with most knowable factors considered, skillfully performed, transparent and open to challenge and criticism, and above all without private profit in mind).  The answers will not be absolute but rather conditional and relativistic.  What is ''good'' for the profit-motive may prove ''bad'' for sustainability.  What is ''bad'' for one environment (windmills in a low windy environment, low-real cost energy-efficient recyclable solar panels in a sub-polar and polar regions) may be ''good'' for another.  What is ''bad'' for a collection of sedentary and older individuals (e.g., bicycle power generation) may be ''good'' for another.  What is ''good'' or feasable for certain energy technologies (those requiring collective or mass adoption and maintenance - i.e., a critical mass) may be ''bad'' for another.  


Living in the ''developed world'' especially here in North America we should keep in mind about our fossil fuel / CO2 burden on the planet.  With conservation in mind we should realize that the fewer individuals who live in this ''fossil-fuel addicted society'' the less our burden will be.  That means fewer individuals.  That also means fewer children (uncomfortable to think of but true).  But I would not start with any individuals or children (that would be an overgeneralization and unscientific) rather starting from the top of the class hierarchy (i.e., the rich = the most wasteful, moving to the ''middle-class'' and lastly the ''working-class'' and unemployed many of whom live under poor or ''developed country'' standards = hardly called emitters as some them even recycle and live off of ''waste'').  


We need to organize society so we live in social units that that encourage us to live least wastefully because we would be held responsible for that waste and we would have no place in geography and time to export that waste burdening others even to the limit of extinction.  The current economic system does not even allow most of us to recognize the incredible harm we are doing to each other and the planet.  The waste of the upper layer of the class system is often transferred to the living environment of the lower class and the greater environment globally at present and to the future- who are helpless and voiceless in their indignation.  It is only when we start living in cooperative classless social units in network with the other global social units that we will be forced to live within our means and the equitable economic power between the individuals and social units will force us to live most responsibly.  In such an environment reliance on best practice (devoid of private gain) science and technology becomes second nature as it proves to be the best (i.e., most objective way) to tackle reality and improve productivity / lives.  So will prevention as disease will be a burden not just to the individual but on the social unit which depends on the individual.  Also conservation as reducing needs (e.g., population control, living life simply) will reduce the needs for energy generation.  As well waste control since there would be no place to export the waste outside of the social unit's lease of the planet so reducing waste, recycling and waste ''consumption'' will become second-nature.  These should eventually translate into reducing or possibly reversing climate-change, habitat threats, and many other ills infecting our planet.  A concerted effort of decontamination (likely over a protracted time - longer than most may imagine) will be necessary to restore some of what may be otherwise lost indefinitely in our global life habitat due to our collective tolerance of our current dangerously dysfunctional economic system.

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