Communities in Energy Transition
Our energy transition (to a sustainable, low-carbon development path) may turn out to be highly dependant on the engendering and embedding of new types of social practice as well as on the widespread uptake of new low-carbon technologies. This research paper from Grassroots Innovations argues that social change and social movements may be of vital importance in the energy transition, because the energy transition implies significant systems change and systems level innovations and not just individual-level behaviour change. Therefore market segmentation models that focus on behaviour change at the individual-level are missing the systemic implications of an energy transition. Behaviour change will likely occur in the context of changing values, lifestyles, and cultural norms modulated through social contexts, including social movements.
How to destroy the planet from the comfort of your own home
The 130 million existing homes in the US are responsible for nearly a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, if all new homes were built to net zero energy it would reduce our emissions by zero. Mitigation and adaptation really do start at home.
If we are capable of destroying the planet from the comfort of our own homes, then the converse must be true. By redefining home and making houses places of comfort, restoration and healing, both psychological and physical, we can indeed become a regenerative society.
Scintec, led by executive manager, Professor Marco Rosa-Clot developed the FTCC or the Floating Tracking Cooling Concentrator system. The FTCC is a floating solar panel system designed for use in natural and artificial basins and lakes.
Its features include reflectors, a cooling system using water sprinklers, and a tracking system to follow the sun’s movement.
Dangerous Ideas & The End of the Peak Oil Myth
Efforts are underway to convince the general populace that our energy concerns are a thing of the past and that the new energy discoveries in the Bakken and other shale formations have proven Peak Oil to be a mistaken idea. Some efforts go even further and flatly state that energy independence is right around the corner.
Nothing could be further from the truth…
I would not mind the excitement over the Bakken as much as I do if it came along with a suitable narrative that made sense. Something along the lines of, “The Bakken is very exciting because it offers us the chance to use domestic supply to begin to move away from our national oil dependence and towards a more sustainable energy future, one where we are not shackled to the need for endless production increases to fuel exponential economic growth. This transition will even make our monetary system much more healthy and robust.”
What’s really in and out for 2012
Every year popular magazines and newspapers produce “In and Out” lists that make a claim to cultural prescience through boldly distinguishing what’s jumped the shark from what’s just about to become a break-out sensation.
Trouble is, too often the ins and outs are totally predictable, being driven by the mainstream corporate culture and so-called style makers. What they’re calling this year’s trends are more often yesterday’s news in underground, alternative and DIY circles. Thanks for catching up, People Magazine and Washington Post.
So we thought we’d do a little In and Out List of our own, with a take on the pulse of a nation dealing with the Great Recession and facing peak oil, climate change and the limits to economic growth. We give you the first annual Transition Voice In and Out List, 2012.
Life Without Electricity
It is not all that long ago when we began using so many electrical appliances in everyday life. Japan’s first “pulsator-type” washing machine, a prototype of current models, reached the market in 1953. Its popularity exploded as it was a convenient product that considerably reduced household work loads. Full-scale television broadcasting also started in 1953. This year set a precedent for the expanding use of various home appliances; so much so that it was later referred to as “year one of electrification”. Yasuyuki Fujimura, a doctor of engineering and an inventor, has been advocating a “non-electric” lifestyle that intentionally avoids the use of electricity. The phrase “non-electric” may sound a little unfamiliar, but it is different from “anti-electrification” that condemns electricity on principle. The phrase is meant to communicate the idea that it should be possible to live happily and richly while enjoying a moderate level of comfort and convenience without depending on electricity.
On the Cusp of Collapse
The systems on which we rely for our financial transactions, food, fuel and livelihoods are so inter-dependent that they are better regarded as facets of a single global system. Maintaining and operating this global system requires a lot of energy and, because the fixed costs of operating it are high, it is only cost-effective if it is run at near full capacity. As a result, if its throughput falls because less energy is available, it does not contract in a gentle, controllable manner. Instead it is subject to catastrophic collapse.
The Energy Trap
Many Do the Math posts have touched on the inevitable cessation of growth and on the challenge we will face in developing a replacement energy infrastructure once our fossil fuel inheritance is spent. The focus has been on long-term physical constraints, and not on the messy details of our response in the short-term. But our reaction to a diminishing flow of fossil fuel energy in the short-term will determine whether we transition to a sustainable but technological existence or allow ourselves to collapse. One stumbling block in particular has me worried. I call it The Energy Trap.
Community Energy Finance 2.0
In a world where income disparity is increasing and social regression is inherent in the current structure of the UK’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT), we need to rethink how community renewable energy projects are structured & financed to ensure full community benefit lies at the heart of the process and that energy reduction is still focused upon as part of a community “power down” process.