Archive for May, 2009

Kauai not alone in plan for unneeded generating capacity

kauai kWh trend

Actually, says Gayle the Actuary, "at this time, it is not entirely clear that we need any new electrical production capacity" (via oildrum).

Gayle reports that, "since mid 2008, the use of electricity in the US has been decreasing, but electric utilities made plans for new capacity, as if demand would be increasing. A similar situation is being reported around the world."

Fact is, this is huge news, since worldwide electricity use has be rising continuously since records began in 1945.

The IEA forecast 3.1% AAGR through 2015, yet actual growth last year was 2.5%, and is projected at -3.5% this year.

Published by Ken on May 31st, 2009 tagged Energy, HI-specific | 1 Comment »

keywords for sustainability: essential, inevitable, and feasible

sustainability transition

Hopefully, folks 'get' that "going green" ain't enough...that there's no such thing as "sorta sustainable".

At the same time, this or that "green" initiative may be seen as a "choice", yet there is no choice but to quickly transition to sustainability. Period.

As the "Transition Town" gang puts it, "climate change makes the carbon reduction transition essential, peak oil makes it inevitable, and transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and attractive."

Notice we're talking "3 Spheres": In economies we will inevitably switch energy, in ecologies we will essentially adapt to climate change, and in communities we will viably re-invent from the bottom-up.

Published by Ken on May 31st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

six steps from illusion: countdown to copenhagen

copenhagen climate council

Forget the long-term targets for emissions reduction by 2050, and focus on dramatic cuts by 2020, or else none of this matters, says Per Meilstrup (via copenhagenclimatecouncil).

"A (2050) vision without a (2020) plan is a (2009) illusion”, and the US plan for reductions to 1990 levels by 2020 is “simply not enough”, says Meilstrup. "Without a firm emissions target in 2020, a 2050 target is will never get there".

"In 2020, at least a 25% reduction for the developed countries – and probably 40% if we are to believe the latest science – is required in 12 years time."

Published by Ken on May 31st, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

KIUC’s unbelievable load forecast (Part III): on sustainability

From a sustainability perspective, each KIUC decision must meet three tests.

First, is it SMART: Does it account for peak oil?

Second, is it SAFE: Does it achieve the required emissions reductions to avoid catastrophic climate change?

Third, is it FAIR: Does it promote equitable access to resources?

A quick assessment of KIUC's "GenX" proposal suggests that it only partially meets the first test, is not likely to meet the second, and major questions remain regarding the third.

Here's why. "GenX" uses fossil-fuels, so its purchase would actually move us away from oil-independence in the short run. That’s a show-stopper, right?

Published by Ken on May 27th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Energy | 1 Comment »

KIUC’s unbelievable load forecast (Part II): on false choices

flawed forecast

KIUC is sitting on a consultant's forecast that says our morning peak load will need new generating capacity by 2013.

Accordingly, KIUC is now on a fast track to purchase a $75 million 35MW fossil fuel generator, called GenX, to be sited in Kapaia.

...Which is why KIUC lobbied against the legislative moratorium on new fossil fuel plants.

Yet, why did KIUC unquestioningly accept the consultants forecast? And how did fossil fuels emerge as the top candidate?

One might expect KIUC to pull out all stops to avoid any additional fossil fuel reliance, and several alternative strategies come readily to mind.

Published by Ken on May 26th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Energy | 1 Comment »

KIUC’s unbelievable load forecast (Part I): on unthinkable acts

going backward

Still haven't seen KIUC’s Energy Management Plan (EMP), just adopted despite opposition by Ben Sullivan in his first KIUC Director’s meeting. (Yeah! Ahh!).

Sadly, the BAU boyz (business-as-usual) 'freight train' had a full head of steam before Sullivan came aboard.

Worse, KIUC's plans could lock us into energy choices that move us in the wrong direction.

Sure, the Strategic Plan talks about transitioning to 'green' energy, yet KIUC’s first major expenditure will be for another fossil fuel plant. Yikes!

This prospect should be unthinkable, yet the BAU framework produced this decision...and we’ll need a sustainability framework to produce dramatically different decisions.

Published by Ken on May 26th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Energy | 1 Comment »

peak oil come quickly! on reserves and hot air


Don't even think about "stopping climate breakdown" unless you're "prepared to impose a limit on the use of the oil reserves already discovered, and a permanent moratorium on prospecting for new reserves", says George Monbiot (via commondreams).

Why? Because recent ground-breaking science suggests we can't afford to spew more than 500 billion tons MORE carbon, even though there may be 800 billion tons (carbon equivalent) of oil reserves available.

So, however limited our remaining fossil fuel supplies may be, we can't use 'em all or we're toast.

Monbiot wants to know now which reserves we're gonna leave in the ground.

Published by Ken on May 19th, 2009 tagged CO2 Emissions, Climate Change | Comments Off

can we fix sustainability if “sacrifice” is unacceptable?

societal collapse

We will not "take preemptive action to mitigate the consequences" of our unsustainable industrialization, nor will we "choose to modify voluntarily our distorted, cornucopian worldview and our dysfunctional, detritovoric resource utilization behavior" we're headed for "societal collapse", says Chris Clugston (via oildrum).

Yet, don't worry: "We will be able to defer the onset of our Societal Collapse until a permanent shortage or disruption in the supply of a critical nonrenewable natural resource permanently disenables our industrial mosaic" says Clugston.

Clugston recommends preparation strategies "for those who believe that survival probabilities and living standards during and after Societal Collapse can be optimized".

Published by Ken on May 19th, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Energy | Comments Off

Hawken to seniors: you are brilliant, and the Earth is hiring

paul hawken at commencement

Every campus should be lucky as UPortland to have Paul Hawken speak to graduating seniors. Here's why (via charityfocus).

"Basically, the earth needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades", says Hawken.

"Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done".

According to Hawken, "working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich."

Published by Ken on May 18th, 2009 tagged Best Practices, Climate Change | Comments Off

sustainability needs balanced thinking in everyday life

bottle litter

If recycling your glass bottle could save a quarter-pound of CO2, and if your car spews a pound of carbon per mile, how many bottles could you cart how far in order to capture the maximum recycling benefits?

These "routine calculations" reflect the "necessary resource literacy" we'll need to "embed balanced thinking in everyday life", says Craig Simmons (via bestfootforward).

Same goes for your "local, organic" food purchases. Recall that the Seattle food project found that if you drove more than 4 miles to get your "green" plate, you'd blow the whole advantage over the "standard supermarket" plate.

Published by Ken on May 18th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

how to organize for sustainability: the next question

green new deal

Folks who know very little about sustainability may not be all that helpful when our communities are trying to chart sustainable pathways.

So, if all we do is ask these innocents, we might expect to get nowhere fast, and the burgeoning mountain of "Action Plans" for local sustainability bear this out.

Engaging citizens in mandatory "community outreach" is one thing. Yet if that's all we do, that's all we get.

This tried-and-true approach is deeply flawed, and unless we inject some sustainability thinking and science findings into the planning process, the product will be less than helpful.

Published by Ken on May 7th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off

how to think about sustainability: that’s the question

juggling 3 spheres

Never mind the talking heads, because they don't 'get' sustainability.

And, don't feel rushed if you don't know what to think about these daunting challenges.

The 'what' part can wait; it’s the 'how' part that merits our priority attention now.

What's important is to practice sustainability thinking.

We don't stand a chance at resolving our sustainability challenges unless we start by learning how to think differently about our world.

Thus spake moi at yesteday's 1st Annual GreenTech Expo at KCC.

Good fun, too, mixing it up with a savvy gang of expo-goers who took time out for some of my "eye-candy"...*

Published by Ken on May 6th, 2009 tagged Community Initiatives, Systems Thinking | Comments Off