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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.

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Archives 2002:
Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003:
Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life
Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004:
Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All

Archives 2005:
Vol. 4, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Standing up for Humanity
Unity in Diversity

Thought and Imagination
Imagination and Healing
Lessons of Katrina
Intelligent Design or Evolution

Archives 2006:
Vol. 5, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-Violent Political Change
Sustainable Development
Legalizing Torture
Living Without an Enemy
"Fast Food" is really "Slow Food"


Featured Articles about Responsibility, the Future and Consciousness:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Conflict, Harmony and Integrity
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-violent Political Change
Living Without an Enemy
Protecting Children: Words and Deeds




July, 2008
7, Number 7

This Month's Article

Energy Independence — Investing in the Sun

The biggest obstacles to solving problems are our mental blocks, habits, fear of leaving our comfort zone, the unwillingness to approach life from a different angle. Innovation is usually not such a revolutionary step, but rather is an evolutionary one taken by people who are able to bring together all past knowledge and reform it into something fitting the moment and the need. So when I see our politicians and citizens feeling that the way to solve our high gasoline prices is to increase supply by more drilling, I see addicts shooting for a quick fix. They dominate the news, but they are way behind the actual current sustainability movement. They are like the “leaders” of the G8 nations, on the wrong side of the cultural divide, gorging themselves on imported food as they discuss solving world hunger — dinosaurs on the verge of extinction.

Instead of wasting money drilling for the limited supply of the old, dirty energy of rotting swamp waste from the Carboniferous Period (about 360 to 286 million years ago), why don’t they consider the oldest form of energy that doesn’t require drilling and produces no toxic by-products — the Sun? Only ten percent of Nevada’s great basin desert would be enough to produce in one-day sufficient solar energy to meet the electricity needs of the US for one year! [1] Why not Sun farms that harvest solar energy rather than biofuels that stress food supplies?

Society has a new value system caused by finally facing the dangers of a careless, self-indulgent lifestyle. We went to war to “protect a way of life” and now we wake up to find that the way of life we are protecting is the true enemy. The value system has a new vocabulary and new behavior: carbon footprint, sustainable, downsize, simplify, buy local, food miles, green energy. This change in the conversation is bringing rapid changes in behavior and mentality. While we may feel powerless to change the world energy cartels and their government lackeys, we do have the power to change our own personal habits and life-style. This is the “trickle up” theory of economics and change (as opposed to the failed “trickle down” theory of the Regan and post-Regan era). “Trickle up” is the future, as individuals take power and become independent; “trickle down” is the past that made individuals dependent. The latter, translated into plain English means, “everyone at the bottom works to make those at the top richer, and to hell with the consequences!”

On an individual level we need to take the steps needed to transition to a clean, energy independent future. Looking at our personal life as a micro economy, it even makes sense financially. Having recently retired, I needed to consider how to invest some savings I had managed to accumulate in a money market account (currently earning 2.33%). Long term CD’s are safe but not too financially attractive (currently earning 2.7%). A six-year fixed annuity, which would preserve my principal, earns about 4.6%. Mutual funds are a losing proposition and most IRA’s have experienced major losses in the last six months jeopardizing many people’s retirement security. In addition, much of what the stock market invests in I do not support. Therefore, I decided to invest in photovoltaic panels.

Our current electric usage averages a cost of $100 per month. With a solar system we will save approximately $1200 per year at current rates for an investment of $18,590. The return on the investment will be about 6.5%. The system actually costs $37,500 but our utility (Arizona Public Service) will pay $16,000 of the cost because we are connected to the grid and will be a power generating plant for them. In addition, we will receive tax credits of $1000 from the state and $2000 from the federal governments. The return on our investment will increase as we economize in certain areas and use efficient electric heating to replace our propane furnace. As fuel prices rise our utility savings will probably be greater each year.

I remember getting my water from a well while living in Africa. There is something about having to carry your water bucket by bucket that disciplines you to not waste. There is something about having to make your rope longer during the dry season to reach the water that makes you not take the gifts of nature for granted. With our solar panels we will be dipping our electricity out of the well of sunshine and will shape our electrical usage to live within our capacity to generate it. It is important that we cultivate the “well” mentality about our use of resources in the future. Our planet is finite but with right use and custodianship can provide abundantly for many years to come. Such a mentality is at the heart of sustainability and independence. As individuals we can together harvest the sun and the wind for the benefit of ourselves and our community.

[1] 10% of the total area of Nevada would be a square of land 100 mi. X 100 mi. The average American uses approximately 12,000 kWh per year.

PV technology can meet electricity demand on any scale. The solar energy resource in a 100-mile-square area of Nevada could supply the United States with all its electricity (about 800 gigawatts) using modestly efficient (10%) commercial PV modules.

A more realistic scenario involves distributing these same PV systems throughout the 50 states. Currently available sites—such as vacant land, parking lots, and rooftops—could be used. The land requirement to produce 800 gigawatts would average out to be about 17 x 17 miles per state. Alternatively, PV systems built in the "brownfields"—the estimated 5 million acres of abandoned industrial sites in our nation's cities—could supply 90% of America's current electricity.

U.S. Department of Energy

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© 2008 Richard V. Sidy

Read Related Articles

Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival

Sustainable Development is Nature's Way

Fast Food is Really Slow Food

Standing Up for Humanity

Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future

The News is not New.

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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

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