Monday, March 10, 2008

The enegy crisis - understanding the consequences by Walt Barrett

You hear about it every day, and you read about it on the Internet, and in the news papers, but have you really stopped to think about the ramifications all the way through? Just imagine daily blackouts or brownouts. Maybe you think it can never happen here, and maybe elephants can fly! Thirty-five years ago in 1973, we had a severe wake-up call, and we started to make some real moves in the right direction. Then, just when things were looking good, and there were many young start up solar, mini hydro, electric car, and wind power businesses, the administration changed, and the new President pulled the rug right from under the fledgling companies by getting rid of the tax credits, and other programs that could have saved us from the current problems we are facing. The sad truth is that the Congress went along with him. In case you forgot about that, you can thank the previous administrations for not taking more actions that could have avoided the current, and worsening energy situation. One might be tempted to say that disbanding the energy programs after the Carter administration left office was not the wisest decision in the world, and one might also be tempted to say that when a person fails at everything else, they go into politics, where they show equally bad judgment and in many cases proceed to line their pockets with “campaign contributions”, a legal form of bribery, in many cases, if I ever saw one. Personally, I feel that we have been sold out in the name of big business and even bigger, and record profits. It seems that today it’s every man, or woman in politics for himself or herself, and to hell with the constituents! The fact is that we have to start saving oil before it’s to late. An indication of things to come is that we are already paying the price for. The gasoline and fuel oil prices are over three dollars a gallon, and will soon rise to over four dollars a gallon. We bought a two hundred gallon load of fuel oil the other day, and it was six hundred and fifty dollars. If anyone thinks it’s going to stop there, then they have another thought coming. If a person is either low income or elderly retired, these increases combined with the higher property taxes caused by local amateur, money squandering politicians are a disaster. You have to remember that the price of oil touches everything from the food we buy to the materials we package it in, and the trucks that haul it to market. Almost everything you touch is touched by oil. You know what that means, everything but your paycheck is going to go up because the cost of everything is going to go up.
Now the question is what can we all do about it? The answers are really quite obvious. We have to press congress to put stronger programs in place to conserve energy. We have to drive automobiles and trucks that are not fuel guzzlers, and we should be moving more long haul goods by rail, using trucks for the shorter hauls from the rail yards to the consumers. We need solar hot water and swimming pool heaters, smaller and more efficient homes. There is no real need for many of these giant homes that are just a gigantic waste of energy and materials, except to feed people’s egos, and make the statement “I’m rich and you’re not.” The same thing goes for giant automobiles. If they are the stuff of real happiness, then we are in real trouble in this country. It seems to me that currently many people have been taking the attitude of let the other guy do it and I’ll just skate by. I’m beginning to wonder what it’s going to take to get the general population on the correct energy track? I think the best way is to imagine a world without oil or electricity. What would you do? This is not a simple problem to solve. But a little conservation goes a long way. Don’t wait for or depend on government to solve the energy problem. Government cannot solve all of your problems, and the best way is to solve your own problems. The Internet is loaded with ways, and products that can cut your energy costs in half. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.
Start your own car pool, or use public transportation if it is available. Think of it as money in your pocket. If you have to drive your car try to save a gallon a day. Just think, if there are a million cars a day on the road, that’s a million gallons a day saved! Fuel prices are set by supply and demand. If you lower the demand you lower the prices. If you schedule your side trips, a gallon a day is easy to save. The main thing is to do something – anything!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A stronger case for micro homes by Walt Barrett

Well I just read an article in the morning paper about an elderly grandmother in Maine Who is really in a struggle. It seems that she is barley keeping alive due to her lack of money to pay for the ever-rising fuel costs. This story is being repeated over and over in the northern states from coast to coast. In her particular case she is in a rented home and hopefully she will find a way to move into a more efficient place to live.
This just brings up a point for future reference that we are going to have to take a long hard look at micro homes for people with borderline incomes . Micro homes are cheap to build, cheap to heat and cheap to cool. They are also much easier to run totally off the grid, thus saving money for utilities. Micro homes are easily built from recycled building materials. They can just as easily be built from adobe or straw bales. The point is that they are affordable. We just need a place to put them. It’s time for our local government to start working on the idea and allow areas where these homes can be built on smaller lots etc. Land prices are a problem in spite of the current decline in real estate prices. We need more people to get behind the idea of building energy efficient micro homes. For more information go to and search micro homes, small home or mini homes, and Plan to use solar hot water, solar electric, LED lighting, Please feel free to write to the author for advice.