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Power from the People - Foreword by Van Jones

Power from the People - Foreword by Van Jones

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More than ninety percent of the electricity we use to light our communities, and nearly all the energy we use to run our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In Power from the People, energy expert Greg Pahl explains how American communities can plan, finance, and produce their own local, renewable energy that is reliable, safe, and clean.
More than ninety percent of the electricity we use to light our communities, and nearly all the energy we use to run our cars, heat our homes, and power our factories comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy.

It doesn’t have to be that way. In Power from the People, energy expert Greg Pahl explains how American communities can plan, finance, and produce their own local, renewable energy that is reliable, safe, and clean.

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Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on Aug 03, 2012
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/13/2013

 
Foreword
 by Van Jones
This book rests an optimistic message on a pessimistic premise.The sobering underlying thesis is that human civilization is already in big trouble—both ecologically and economically. And things are set to get muchworse. The hopeul underlying message is that we still have the capacity topull good outcomes rom even the most rightening scenarios.The paradox is this: Only by recognizing how much worse things canget can we muster the energy and creativity to win a better uture. In thatregard, the book you hold in your hands is not just an action guide; it is asurvival guide.
The Bad News Is Very Bad 
 At this late date, there is no point in mincing words about the impending series o calamities. The global production o oil will soon peak, ending orever the era o cheap crude. The resulting price spikes and uel shortagescould throw all o industrial society into an ugly death spiral. Worse still: Wehave seen only the earliest examples o the kind o biblical disasters—thesuper-storms, wildres, foods, and droughts—that climate experts predictare in the pipeline, even i we cease all carbon emissions immediately.The polar ice caps haven’t melted yet; i they do, they will send temperaturesand sea levels soaring, orcing us to redraw every coastal map in the world.Even under the riendliest scenarios, we will likely see ood systems disrupted,lie-sustaining uels priced beyond reach or many, and our health challengedas tropical super-bugs invade ormerly temperate climes. On a hotter planet,we could ace the choice between water rationing and water riots. As stressulas the present moment is, worse times are possible—and even likely.
 
viii |
 Power from the People
 At the same time, the majority o the world’s people now live in cities. Andthough cities cover only 2 percent o Earth’s surace, they already consume 75percent o the planet’s natural resources. As more people continue crowding into cities, that gure will climb even higher, which means urban areas have become the main driver in the ecological crisis. Many cities are sinkholeso human suering, especially or a marginalized population o low-incomeearners and people o color. And in the United States, the word
urban
has becomesynonymous with the word
 problem
. Many urban neighborhoods are plagued by economic desperation, violence, pollution, and crumbling inrastructure.Climate change and the economic and equity crises o our communitiesmay appear to have little in common, but they share a key determining actor—namely, our near-complete dependence on coal, oil, and natural gas.The carbon dioxide produced by driving our vehicles, heating (and cooling)our homes, and lighting our cities with ossil uels is the main culprit behindclimate change. Meanwhile, that same dependence on ossil uels sucks billions o dollars every year out o communities across America, with thepoorest households oten hit hardest.But what i we ound ways to power our homes, businesses, actories, andvehicles that
didn’t 
warm the planet, that kept local dollars circulating inlocal economies, and that even created local jobs? What i we spread thoseclimate-riendly, local-economy-boosting, job-creating ideas to every city andtown across the country?
Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
It is too late or us to avert all o the negative consequences o 150 yearso ecological olly and resource wasteulness. Our challenge is to beginimplementing real changes, rapidly and rom the bottom up. Certain billsare coming due, and certain chickens are coming home to roost, no matterwhat we do. But there are steps we can take to cushion the blow.We must prepare ourselves (and our communities) or the worst possibleoutcomes. In considering the most pessimistic scenarios, we must talk lessabout economic growth and more about economic resilience; less aboutabundance and more about suciency; less about sustainability and more

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