Tag Archives: Energy

Better Off: one year, two people, zero watts

I just finished reading Better Off by Eric Brende who, a decade ago as part of a graduate project, went from MIT to OTG (off-the-grid) for 18 months with his wife, and amidst it all, new baby.

The book is based on his journals from that 18 month period and has a ton of really interesting anecdotes and observations.  Bottom line: he really never came back to the machine-and-technology world.  He didn’t stay in the zero-watt Mennonite community he joined for the project, but he and his family learned they quite liked a life with very little technology and have over the years built a lifestyle that suits them really well.

The end of the book has an epilogue that is markedly different in tone from the rest of the book in that it takes a sober look at his conclusions–no folksy tales about how and who and why and when in the country. A very stripped down appraisal of the True Cost of how we live–and the True Cost is high, make no mistake.

Interestingly, he gives a nod to the internet he uses at the library and how it allows him to reach a larger audience for trades, barters and such.

It’s worth the read.

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Try not to wreck the place on your way out:

New article on the practice of hydrofracking, or fracturing the earth’s crust in order to extract energy resources. share this with everyone who has experienced an earthquake lately.
http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/06/try-not-to-wreck-the-place-on-your-way-out.html
Surely we are the worst guests the Planet has ever invited for dinner.

A side-by-side view of Acceptance Night Speeches: Promises Made

McCain Obama
Taxes
• Keep taxes low and cut them where he could.
• Double the child tax exemption from $3,500 to $7,000.
• Cut the business tax rate to help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas.
Taxes
• Cut taxes “for 95 percent of all working families.”
• “Eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses” and start-ups “that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.”
• Advocate “a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.”
• “Stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas” and “start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.”
Energy
• Produce more energy at home.
• Drill new wells offshore.
• Build more nuclear power plants.
• Develop clean coal technology.
• Increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas.
• Encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.
Energy
• Set a goal that “in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”
• “Tap natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.”
• “Help our auto companies retool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America.” Video Watch Obama’s acceptance speech »
• Make it easier for Americans to afford U.S.-built, fuel-efficient cars.
• Have the federal government “invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels.” Doing so, he said, would “lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.”
Education
• Make schools answer to parents and students.
Education
• “Finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education.
• Find more money for early childhood education and recruit teachers with better pay while also pushing “higher standards and more accountability.
• Make sure young Americans can afford college if they serve their community or country.td>
Health care
• Make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance.
Health care
• “Finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American.”
• Lower premiums for those who have health care and let those without coverage “get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.”
• Make sure insurance companies “stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.”
Labor Law
(Did not discuss)
Labor law
• Provide paid sick days and “better family leave” for workers.
• Close the pay gap between the sexes.
Unemployment assistance
• Help workers who’ve lost a job that won’t come back and find a new one that won’t go away.
• Use community colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities.
• Retrain workers in industries that have been hard hit and cover the pay difference during retraining.
Unemployment assistance
(Did not discuss)
Bankruptcy Law
(Did not discuss)
Bankruptcy Law
• Change bankruptcy law “so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses.”
Federal spending
• Reduce government spending and get rid of failed programs to “let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit.”
Federal spending
• Pay for “every dime” of his plans’ costs “by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow.”
• Cut federal programs that don’t work and improve those that do while reducing their costs.
National Defense
(Did not discuss specifics other than assert the Surge was Successful)
National defense
• “End this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
• “Only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.”
• “Rebuild our military to meet future conflicts.”
Foreign relations
• A serious blow has been dealt to al Qaeda, but the terror network has not been defeated and will strike again if able.
• Iran is the chief state sponsor of terrorism and on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons.
• Russia’s leaders have rejected democratic ideals, invaded a small, democratic neighbor, Georgia, to gain more control over the world’s oil supply, intimidated other neighbors and have ambitions of reassembling the Russian empire.
Foreign relations
• “Restore our moral standing” in the world.
• Provide “tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.”
• “Build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.”
Foreign trade
• Open new markets to American goods and services.
• Prepare workers to compete in the world economy.
Foreign trade
(Did not discuss specifics)
Abortion
(Did not discuss specifics)
Abortion
• Work with people on all sides of the issue to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
Gun control
(Did not discuss specifics)
Gun control
• Uphold the Second Amendment but also keep “AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”
Gay Rights
(Did not discuss)
Gay Rights
• Help ensure that gays and lesbians have the right “to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.”
Illegal Immigration
(Did not discuss specifics)
Illegal Immigration
• Pursue policies that don’t result in separated families.
• Discourage companies from undercutting American wages by hiring illegal workers.
Economy
• Create millions of new jobs, “jobs that will be there when your children enter the work force.”
Economy
(Did not discuss specifics, see Federal Spending above)