Friday, January 24, 2014

The Necessity of Simple Steps

Feeling the heat yet? We all are, really. According to NASA, 2013 was the 7th hottest year on record. And according to NOAA, last year was the 4th hottest on record. Whoever is closer to the truth here, it's undeniable that 2013 was one brutally hot year.

And already, the meteorological drama continues in 2014. Just next door, California has declared an emergency due to extreme drought. Meanwhile on the other end of the nation, Winter Storm Janus is dropping even more heavy snow in a region that's still trying to dig out of the last couple of massive snowstorms. And throughout the world, Dust-Bowl-ification may already be worsening food insecurity and political instability.

There's no denying the real danger of climate change. It's here, and it's already begun to wreak havoc around the world and here at home. And this is why calls to action are being made everywhere from Davos to DC.

When we look at climate change and examine ways to solve this growing crisis, we often discuss broad, global solutions. But today, we're thinking globally... And acting locally. And climate solutions can truly start with simple moves like changing light bulbs and improving home insulation.

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This is what local Sierra Club organizers and volunteers were talking about last night as they were looking at the next steps to take to finally move Beyond Coal and into a cleaner & greener energy future. While solving climate change as a whole may seem like a daunting task ahead, taking simple steps to improve energy efficiency really isn't difficult. And if we're to ever start saving our own behinds, we must start with those simple steps.

Fortunately, Nevada made some major steps in that cleaner & greener direction last year when the Legislature and NV Energy agreed to SB 123. Finally, the infamous Reid-Gardner Coal Plant on Moapa Paiute tribal land would be retired while NV Energy invests in more locally produced renewable energy.

However, the twisted saga of Reid-Gardner isn't over quite yet. Last night, Moapa Paiute Tribal Council Member Vickie Simmons talked of the new challenge being posed by natural gas (power plant) developers.

As we've discussed before, natural gas is far from ideal. It isn't completely "clean". And it won't magically make all pollution and climate change go away.

This is why local Sierra Club organizer Elspeth DiMarzio moved on to explain the mechanics and the necessity of energy efficiency.

Again, these seem to be simple steps we can all make. However, they're more than just that. They're absolutely necessary for us to begin saving our communities and our planet.

Remember that the less energy we use, the less we need fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. And that means we will have an easier time turning to renewables to fulfill more of our needs.

And no, efficiency doesn't mean we all have to live in the dark. It means we can be smarter about how much energy we use to enjoy 21st century living.

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After the speakers wrapped up, the volunteers broke into groups to strategize. Somehow, the media group managed to attract a paleontologist who really wanted to dig deep into the specifics of energy policy. There were also a couple of architectural design students on hand to offer their know-how as well. Meanwhile just a few feet away, the community outreach group was brainstorming partnerships... And found someone who's interested in making a short film on Reid-Gardner, SB 123, and the future of energy in Nevada.

This will probably all be necessary in the days ahead. The Nevada Legislature now has a Interim Energy Committee, and they'll soon be looking for citizen input on SB 123 implementation and more. And when it comes to more, the state can use more of a clear path forward on efficiency. This state's energy usage has skyrocketed in recent years, so we need to set guidelines on track to meet our goal of building cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable communities.

Last year, we saw a breakthrough in Carson City in moving beyond coal and in a greener direction. However, last year was nonetheless one of the hottest on record. There's still more to do to step up to the challenge of climate change. And believe it or not, it all starts with a few simple steps.

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