Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Tonight's Ecological Footprint class featured a presentation by Charlie Stephens of Adjuvant Consulting. Charlie is a seventeen-year veteran of the Oregon Department of Energy and an expert on energy systems for homes. As someone in the class said to me afterwards, he should be where Al Gore is, giving his presentation to the masses. I learned a bit about heat pumps, phantom energy use, and how much it is going to take for everyone in America to avoid an energy crisis (50% reduction in space heating and cooling in our homes to begin with). A daunting task but something that we must get to work on now. Here is a link to a pdf of a similar presentation that he made.

I was pretty tired when I got home tonight, so I tried to go to bed after taking the dogs out. But I couldn't sleep because I was troubled by the enormity of the task of figuring out what to do to (pick one) (a) save the planet, (b) help starving children, (c) keep more of the kids in the US from being so idle that they turn to crime or drugs...

In my last post I challenged readers to state or to think about what they are or could be doing to give our children hope for the future. So here's my own answer. Although I have some technical skills with computers, the thing that I get most excited about is opening up possibilities for others. This can be in the form of tutoring a student in math, getting neighbors to think about the climate crisis, or contributing money toward the building of a theatre to give young artists in Cambodian villages a stable place to practice their art.

Tonight, after hearing Charlie Stephens describe several ways to enhance existing home hot water heating systems, I raised my hand and explained that this information was great for the twenty-five or so people there in the room who would take this information home and maybe think of applying it, but the real issue is how do we get the larger population motivated to do something about this? It is the answer to that question that motivates me. I can study how to improve my own house's ecological footprint but how do I not only reach a lot of people but actually help move them toward significantly reducing their footprints and embracing renewable resources?

This summer I was exposed to the slow food movement which led Maria and I to subscribing to an organic produce delivery service. Eating local, eating organic, they became a passion (they still are, just more routine now that we have a regular delivery). And I'm pleased with the progress that that switch to eating more local food is also reducing our ecological footprint. Taking this message to others, encouraging others to eat local and organic, is another way to feed the hope of our children. Geez this is almost sounding like one of those tv commercials about giving twenty dollars to feed a hungry child. But it feels real, even if it sounds cliche.

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