Sustainable future a growing component of Energy Fair

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11545412727387.jpg’, ‘File photo by Rebecca Pierson’, ‘Rural Renaissance Network co-founder Lisa Kivirist (pictured at last year’s fair) will deliver “Organic Eating on a Dime” from 1:15-2:15 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at this year’s Fifth Anniversary Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair.’);

Aug. 12-13 fair at Ogle County Fairgrounds features sustainable lifestyles keynotes, workshops

Our modern economy has been built on the abundant use of cheap fossil fuels. As supplies diminish, costs rise, and the adverse social, environmental and economic consequences of their use become increasingly apparent, many bleak energy futures appear. Authors Richard Heim and James Kuntsler warn of those dire consequences and call for rapid, dramatic changes in our use of energy to avoid the worst.

Michael Klare’s concerns go beyond energy to a future of resource wars. As events in the Middle East unfold, we witness the horrendous consequences for people involved and the extravagant waste of resources. The economic costs of such wars leave dramatically fewer funds available for health care, clean air and water, education and rebuilding local and state economies.

The entire premise of modern industrialization is built around the concept of endless growth. Costs of goods and services have dropped as a result of relentlessly substituting fossil fuels and technology for labor. The constant need to find new markets has intensified international competition with Western firms seeking cheap labor and potential large markets available in China and India. If energy supplies become scarce and expensive, as predicted, our future is likely to be one of less available energy, slower rates of economic growth, rising unemployment and increasing hardships for the general public.

Those who believe the most frightening scenario involves the earth’s limited ability to remove greenhouse gases call for a major reorganization of the global economic system. Political leaders in England seem most alarmed about global warming. After nine years in office, the Labour Party has seen its efforts to curtail carbon dioxide releases overwhelmed by economic growth using more energy. According to The Independent newspaper, Colin Challen has declared that “climate change means that business as usual is dead.” British Prime Minister Tony Blair has repeatedly called for the rapid expansion of nuclear energy to address climate change.

Others have expressed concern that any short-term increase in natural gas and oil supplies and subsequent price drops will send the wrong signal to the public, who would be likely to turn away from efficiency and renewable energy. Any temporary increase in fossil fuel consumption will intensify environmental deterioration and leave us with less energy resources with which to build a sustainable energy future.

A more optimistic energy future scenario involves using less energy, using it more efficiently, increasing the proportion of energy derived from renewable sources and changing our lifestyles to reflect emerging energy realities. One place to meet and exchange ideas with others with similar interests and concerns is at the Fifth Anniversary Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 12-13 at Ogle County Fairgrounds. The event draws together a wide range of enthusiastic people motivated to find ways to cut energy costs and adopt lifestyles that reduce adverse environmental impacts. Many participants have already made personal adjustments in their use of energy and are eager to share ideas with others as to what is possible and how to do it. Workshops, booths, displays and vendors will also serve as sources of information.

A growing component of this year’s Energy Fair is that of sustainable lifestyles. Two keynote presentations, “Sustainable Energy and Housing Approaches in Europe” and “Sustainable Energy: Gateway to Prosperity,” will set the stage for (among others) “Sustainable Living in the City,” “Sustainable Organic Architecture,” “The Heart of Sustainability,” “Organic Eating on a Dime” and “Ecosistency.” There is always the possibility of last-minute changes, so check for the latest update to the program.

From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

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