Time for an energy transformation

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-115514290115484.jpg’, ‘File photo by Rebecca Pierson’, ‘Patrons at last year’s Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair examine a 2006 Toyota Prius. Energy-efficient transportation will again be a focus at this year’s Fair, set for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12-13, at Ogle County Fairgrounds.’);

Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 12-13 at Ogle County Fairgrounds

Heat waves, hurricanes, forest fires, floods, droughts, air pollution alerts, high energy prices, electrical service disruptions, species loss, intense global competition for energy supplies and energy wars are all sending a loud, clear message: It is time for an energy transformation.

The illusion that we can maintain the American way of life on cheap energy is rapidly vanishing. Quality of life in the United States has already deteriorated due to peak oil and climate change. The list of acute energy-related problems is growing and unlikely to diminish without major changes in our lifestyles, businesses and industries. The essential solutions will take time, persistence and money to implement.

Energy investment banker Matt Simmons, author of Saudi Oil, Twilight in the Desert (Jan Lundberg, publisher, Culture Change), portrays a future with neither oil nor natural gas to spare. In Simmons’ view, we will no longer be able to maintain our economy as we now know it. To kick the oil habit, we must redesign our transportation system. We need to walk, bike and use mass transit more than we now do. Trucking will diminish as shipping by water and rail increase to save energy. The workforce should be reorganized to diminish the need for the daily long commute to work. Globalization could fall dramatically as energy supplies dwindle and costs rise.

Of particular concern are global plans to expand the expressway system for cars and trucks. At current population levels, if expressway expansion in China and India raises oil consumption to the level now existing in Mexico, the world’s oil supply would have to increase more than 50 percent to nearly 130 million barrels per day. We do not know whether Simmons’ vision of the future will become reality, but we are confident that efficiency and renewable energy will play important roles.

It is clear that our energy future is filled with challenges to meet. We need to meet them now while we still have the necessary sources to build a sustainable energy economy. The Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair Aug. 12-13 at Ogle County Fairgrounds is an opportunity to meet leading people from Illinois and beyond who have made efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable living integral to their lives. As energy prices rise, and the environmental consequences of our wasteful energy practices become increasingly apparent, efficiency and renewable energy will be significant factors in all of our lives, jobs and investments.

Activities outside Illinois, including developing mini grids, area-wide energy planning, expanding a wide variety of renewable energy sources and building and retrofitting efficient homes will broaden visitors’ perspectives.

Efficiency and renewables, solar electricity and hot water, wind installations, geothermal building, alternative home construction progress and biofuel development in Illinois will be illuminated. Organic gardening and eating possibilities will be presented. Soaps, candles, baskets and other items made from natural or recycled materials will be available. Locally-grown vegetables will be for sale.

Displays of alternative transportation, efficient housing and fossil fuel-free home heating will expand individuals’ choices. Children’s activities will help them learn of viable alternatives for their future, including solar cooking and building with organic, highly efficient materials.

The Fair will have something for everyone to observe, hear, learn and consider.

From the Aug. 9-15, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!