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Getting rich vs. being rich

We20150426_095844420_iOS have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. Think about this: we are the only species on this planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time than to renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich; it is a way to be rich.
         -Paul Hawken

York Community Dialogue on York’s Energy Future – May 30, 2015

ALL YORK RESIDENTS ARE INVITED: York Cimmunity Dialogue - May 30, 2015

You are invited to participate in a public forum on York’s clean-energy strategy hosted by the York Dialogues Committee on Saturday morning, May 30 from 8:30 to 11:30 at the High School cafeteria.

The York Energy Steering Committee has been tasked with creating an energy chapter for the Comprehensive Plan, which calls for sustainability to be integrated in all Town planning and decisions, and includes the goal of promoting renewable energy throughout Town. The Energy Chapter will be on the May 2016 ballot for voters to consider

The Energy Committee plans to solicit the thoughts, priorities, questions and ideas of York residents to help shape the energy strategies the Town will employ to accomplish the vision of the Comprehensive Plan. The May 30 public dialogue is the first event, and will also help the Committee determine what future events to hold.

So please come and contribute your thoughts on May 30 and encourage your neighbors and friends to do the same.

2014 Was Hottest Year on Record

It’s official:

Last year was the hottest in earth’s recorded history, scientists reported on Friday, underscoring scientific warnings about the risks of runaway emissions and undermining claims by climate-change contrarians that global warming had somehow stopped.

And the trend continues:

In the annals of climatology, 2014 now surpasses 2010 as the warmest year in a global temperature record that stretches back to 1880. The 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1997, a reflection of the relentless planetary warming that scientists say is a consequence of human emissions and poses profound long-term risks to civilization and to the natural world.

Below is the 2014 temperature anomaly relative to the 1950-80 average:


The graph above shows the yearly global surface temperature relative to the 1951-80 average.

“Obviously, a single year, even if it is a record, cannot tell us much about climate trends,” said Stefan Rahmstorf, head of earth system analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “However, the fact that the warmest years on record are 2014, 2010 and 2005 clearly indicates that global warming has not ‘stopped in 1998,’ as some like to falsely claim.”

Read the rest of the New York Times article.

Peaks Island school eyed for emergency solar power array

The following article from the theforecaster.net recounts the latest work done by Eric Hopkins and others to develop an emergency solar power pilot project.

A group of people including teachers and engineers met at the school library recently to start discussing the possibility of making the school the island’s designated Red Cross emergency shelter, and powering it by solar energy in case the electric grid goes down.

The group was led by Eric Hopkins, a teacher from Wells Junior High School, and chairman of the York Energy Efficiency Committee.

“What we’re talking about here has never really been done before, and we’re trying to figure out what it would take to try to make it happen, and does it make sense to make it happen here,” Hopkins said.

Currently, the public safety building on the island serves as the emergency shelter. But members of the group agreed it wasn’t an appropriate place for the shelter, given its size and how busy those working in it would be when it is needed as a shelter.

Hopkins said he is trying to pre-write a grant application, so when grants are available, the group will be able to go “with a lot of decisions already made” and a powerful presentation.

Peaks Island makes the most sense for a project like this from a business perspective, Hopkins said, because when the mainland power is down, the island is going to have an even more difficult time.

The proposal is for a pre-engineered, pre-packaged power source that can produce and store renewable energy, reduce electricity bills, and and serve as a sustainable source of back-up power. The power would come from solar panels on the roof of the school, and would be stored in batteries kept in an outdoor shipping container.

The project is modeled after the Florida-based Sunsmart E-Shelter program, which installed solar electric emergency power systems in more than a 100 schools that serve as their communities’ emergency shelters.

Hopkins said he has been working with this project’s founder, Bill Young, to try and bring it to cold-weather climates. There are a few key differences between Florida’s project and the one Hopkins proposes.

“In Florida, they don’t have to keep the heat on,” he said. “… They also get more sun, so we have to deal with those issues.”

Hopkins said the cost of the project in Florida was around $100,000 per school. He said the cost of the project in Maine would be more, simply because more panels and bigger batteries would be needed.rooftop-solar-array-537x359

He said storms are becoming “more frequent, more powerful, and more damaging.”

In Maine, he added, people tend to shelter in place. But if the shelter is no longer feasible, people need a place to go.

“When the power goes out, the most vulnerable need to find shelter, Red Cross shelters are typically located in schools and municipal buildings,” Hopkins said. “Some shelters have backup emergency generators, but most do not.”

He also said fuel for backup generators can become scarce in times of disaster, while solar can provide necessary electricity until power is restored.

Hopkins began working on a Solar Electric Emergency Power project about a year ago at York Middle School. Thanks to a grant from Efficiency Maine, he and others were able to install a solar array to offset energy costs from the school’s laptop computer program. He said in that year they saved the school $1,600 in electricity costs.

Island resident and community organizer Sam Saltonstall reached out to Hopkins about the possibility to taking his project in York and bringing it Peaks. Saltonstall first started thinking about energy efficiency efforts after working with the Island Institute.

He said he discovered that, although the York Middle School is the designated American Red Cross emergency shelter for the town, there was no emergency power source. That’s when he began to wonder if the newly installed solar arrays could be used to provide a minimum level of power to the emergency shelter in York. Word spread of this idea, and that’s when Saltonstall contacted Hopkins.

In addition to Peaks Island Elementary School and York Middle School, the Kittery Community Center has also been identified as a pilot project site.

The ethics of climate change

As a global and long-term problem, climate change presents a huge ethical challenge. Climate change is the consequence of a huge number of small acts, which individually are not intended to cause harm. Moreover, the main victims of climate change – future generations and people in vulnerable countries – are distant in time and space from those who have contributed to the problem.

– Dr. Andrea Bunting


More resources.




Real food security

Anybody interested in solving, rather than profiting from, the problems of food production and distribution will see that in the long run the safest food supply is a local food supply, not a supply that is dependent on a global economy. Nations and regions within nations must be left free — and should be encouraged — to develop the local food economies that best suit local needs and local conditions.

— Wendell Berry

Once plants and animals were raised together on the same farm — which therefore neither produced unmanageable surpluses of manure, to be wasted and to pollute the water supply, nor depended on such quantities of commercial fertilizer. The genius of American farm experts is very well demonstrated here: they can take a solution and divide it neatly into two problems.

— Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America : Culture & Agriculture

Article 3 to address potentially failing septic systems in York

On November 4, York voters will have the opportunity to enact a new ordinance that will require homeowners or buyers to have a septic system inspection done at the time of property sale or transfer. Some real estate brokers have objected to the ordinance, claiming that most buyers already get the septic inspected prior to . . . → Read More: Article 3 to address potentially failing septic systems in York

Protecting Our Well Water

There will be an important presentation on Oct. 5 on the subject of “Protecting Our Well Water.”

The date is Sunday, October 5, at 7 PM at the York Public Library.

Speakers will be Dr. Robert Marvinney, Director, Maine Geologic Survey and Gail Darrell, Director, New England Office of the Community Environmental Legal Defense. . . . → Read More: Protecting Our Well Water

To idle or not to idle

Cars are different now. It may be time to re-think a common misconception.

America’s solar revolution

Solar power is on the rise. From the Union of Concerned scientists:

From rooftops to landfills to large open spaces, harnessing the full power of solar energy will be a key part of our nation’s transition to clean, reliable and affordable electricity that can safeguard our environment, protect our health and power our economy.

The . . . → Read More: America’s solar revolution

A guide to energy efficient lighting

The following infographic provides a good summary of some of the choices available for energy efficient lighting.

Source: WellHome

This entry was posted in Conservation Conversations Blog.

2014’s most promising alternative energy trends

According to mining.com, “The business world has recognized a need for viable alternative energy solutions, and investors are now pouring in their cash. Last year, a staggering $214 billion was invested in renewable energy worldwide.”

Below are a few of the most promising innovations in the area of renewable and clean energy.

Infographic from: . . . → Read More: 2014’s most promising alternative energy trends

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