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Saving energy and the environment

July 21, 2010

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President
Illinois Renewable Energy Association

The Gulf oil gusher and processing of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to secure oil makes clear the connection between oil consumption and environmental destruction.

Even if the Gulf oil pipe is successfully capped, environmental damage will continue long into the future. Some scientists have concluded that damage could permanently alter the regional ecosystem with devastating long-term effects on fishing, seafood supplies and tourism.

Ricki Ott, author of Sound Truth, fears the same process used to understate permanent damage from the Valdez oil spill in Alaska will be applied to understate damage to Gulf ecology and workers involved in the cleanup.

Some observers wonder if an even more devastating impact for the Gulf awaits us. The ocean floor is releasing oil and methane, leaving experts to wonder about its impact. Some speculate that if the ocean floor collapsed, it could displace water and create a major tsunami with devastating coastal effects. If a large release of methane occurred, it could ignite with explosive force.

We included this conjecture not from a conviction that it will occur, but rather as an attempt to jolt the public from its energy apathy, which allows us to continue with business as usual. Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair (Aug. 7-8 at Ogle County Fairgrounds) keynote speaker Howard Latin reminds us of the importance of overcoming the stalemate on global warming, which keeps the world from taking aggressive action. A second keynoter, Dave Rollo, discusses Bloomington, Ind.’s, plan for peak oil.

While this year’s energy fair remains focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency, more emphasis is being given to environmental and economic concerns. Richard Benning from Severson Dells will report about wolves in Illinois, a topic that became of interest with the recent wolf sighting in Ogle County. Tom Lindblade, with whom we shared observations on a recent canoe trip on the Rock River, will discuss great local paddles you may not know about.

Frank Masterman, organizer of the Rock River Sweep, will share his vision of what the sweep hopes to accomplish and report about the results of the first year’s coordinated sweep of the entire river.

Frank Schier, editor and publisher of The Rock River Times, will report about the effort under way to develop and coordinate a Rock River Trail system for driving, biking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and camping. Paul Ring and Kent Solberg, who usually travel by bike to the fair, will discuss everything you need to know about turning your car trips into bike trips for work and pleasure.

With increased public interest in surviving a disaster, Bill Quinn, adventure education professor at Northeastern Illinois University, will lead a discussion about the best strategy for surviving a disaster of any kind concentrating on basic considerations for water, food and medicine. He will also share insights on survival skills in wilderness pursuits.

Lisa Kivirist will provide inspirational ideas about how she simplified her life to achieve greater self-reliance while saving money. She and her family live the “good life” with renewable energy, organic and local foods and elements of a green home design.

Cheap ’n’ Green, a session hosted by Lin Vogl and Birgit Wolff, is designed as an audience participation workshop for sharing ideas about cost-effective ways to do the right thing.

A session by Keith Blackmore is focused on David Gershon’s workbook, The Carbon Dioxide Diet Program, which stresses the importance of reducing CO2. Results from a group’s effort to follow the program and other energy-saving ideas will be shared.

Bob Croteau will explain how to build a solar collector for installation on the south wall of a house or garage. Heat storage and hot water options will also be covered.

Dave Kozlowski, who specializes in remodeling homes, has ideas about cost-effective ways to recycle a building, improve indoor air quality and comfort and reduce energy and water use while using earth-friendly building materials that he will display.

Major sponsors of the Aug. 7-8 fair include The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, The Rock River Times, ComEd and Clean Line Energy Partners.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. The Vogls and the IREA are members of the Environmental Hall of Fame. Dr. Robert Vogl is vice president of Freedom Field, and Dr. Sonia Vogl is a member of Freedom Field’s Executive Committee. The Vogls consult on energy efficiency, renewable energy and green building. They have 3.2 kW of PV and a 1 kW wind generator at their home. Forty acres of their 180-acre home farm are in ecological restorations. They are active in preserving natural areas and are retired professors from Northern Illinois University. E-mail sonia@essex1.com.

From the July 21-27, 2010 issue

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