Where there is a vision and a plan

March 21, 2017

Where there is a Vision and a Plan

Recently I went to a writer’s conference in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. It was my second time there and in addition to kick starting my writing practice, I was very inspired by listening to many of the speakers, including and most importantly Naomi Klein, Canadian author and social activist, known for her recent book “This Changes Everything” and her husband, Avi Lewis, the director of the film “This Changes Everything.”

In listening both to Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, one thing that particularly struck me is how they spoke about the necessity not only to protest, to defend, to say no, but also to have a vision of where we want to go and support that vision.

I imagine many of us have read about all that is not happening in this new administration with regard to climate change and this, no doubt, can be very discouraging. I have also read at times that even if we wanted to change over completely to clean energy, we are not ready for that technologically.

That’s why when I was speaking with Avi Lewis and he mentioned this professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University called Mark Z Jacobson who has, with his colleagues, devised a plan how all 50 states could realistically shift to 100% clean renewables by 2050, I was fascinated and immediately uplifted in spirit. His report says that the conversion to clean energy is technically and economically totally possible.

Of course that still leaves the question of how to create enough will to make that transition on such a grand scale, but as he says, “The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change. One way to overcome the barriers is to inform people what is possible…By showing that it’s technologically and economically possible, this study could reduce the barriers to a large scale transformation.”

The study is published in the online edition of Energy and Environmental Sciences http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pd There is also an interactive map summarizing the plans for each state at http://thesolutionsproject.org/  This interactive map goes into every state in the union explaining what the energy sources are now; be they coal, oil, gas, nuclear or renewables, and what would be needed to replace all fuel usages with electricity that is sourced solely by wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and small amounts of tidal and wave.

The study records, for example, how much sun exposure each state has; how many south-facing rooftops there are and whether offshore wind turbines are an option. In addition the question is ask whether geothermal energy is available at a reasonable cost. The plan calls for no new hydroelectric dams, but does include improving the efficiency of existing dams. In addition they mention the percentage of land that is needed for WWS (wind, water and solar) generators, which is not very large at all and very importantly the savings on illnesses and deaths from air pollution – a substantial number of people.

Every state is examined with regard to present fuel needs and what would be needed on the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation level to make this transition.

So for example in a chart on Massachusetts, the projected energy mix for 2050 would be 55% offshore wind, 13% onshore wind, 22.3% solar PV plants, 3.9% Residential rooftop PV, and then a small percentage for wave devices, geothermal, hydroelectric and tidal turbines.

They even calculate how many jobs would be created for construction and operation and mention that using WWS (wind, water and solar) electricity for everything, improves energy efficiency and means you need much less energy.

It’s a very impressive study – impressive and uplifting – but still to get the willpower of people and businesses and the government to implement this plan is not an easy sell. It’s a radical transition that will need tremendous human will, focus and determination. It’s not happening yet, and still, for me, this study definitely had the effect of lifting my spirits. Why is that I wonder?

I am encouraged first of all that such a study exists and shows that we could, through an extreme transformation of our existing infrastructure and how we consume energy, we could change to 100% clean energy which is what we have to do. sooner rather than later. This study is now available for anyone to see and they’ve also created an online campaign that anyone can join that goes even beyond the USA to a global conversion. Now I know it hasn’t caught on fire yet in the way that it must,, but the vision and the plan of action is out there and I feel it will attract attention, like a magnet, that pulls people in.

I think it’s the combination of a vision of what is possible and also a very down-to- earth thought through plan that gives the vision weight. I recently read this quote and I think it makes sense:

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”
– Brian Tracy

I don’t know at this point how this study will affect my actions, but I feel it will. Already I want to keep checking in on the site and finding out what is happening. These are early days, but I feel the pull of this work and hopefully more and more people will feel the pull as well.

    1. Hi Judy- great article and I agree that it is much better to accentuate solutions while resisting/stopping bad policies. Not sure if you are aware that we have a new 100% renewable western mass coalition that BEAT is facilitating in coordination with mass power forward, we had our first meeting last week, and you might be interested in participating. There will be a launch of this program at the Eco fair

      1. Hi Al, no I didn’t know. Thanks for letting me know about it and I will check it out. I am also going to start in April a Citizen’s Climate lobby group in the Berkshires.

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