Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Grist Writer Gets the URGE2 Electrify

David Roberts is a staff writer at Grist, an online enviro magazine. He's written a piece in TomPaine.com that deserves attention. As Roberts' posits, 2007 holds out tremendous promise, the stars are aligned. Everyone is paying attention to green. But enviros are all over the map. They have no consensus message.
Everything from light bulbs to organic food, to flex-fuel cars to a carbon freeze tax—no, make that a cap-and-trade program—clamors for attention.
So Roberts decided to find the point of agreement,
a common overarching chorus, one with which everybody from security hawks to conservationists to evangelicals can sing along.
I hereby propose just such an overarching message, a mere five words long: Use renewably generated electricity, efficiently, or URGE² .... As far as greens are concerned, everything that advances that goal should be supported. What doesn't should be ignored or opposed.
Putting renewable electricity into plug-in cars would move to the top of any such coherent enviro agenda, and of course ethanol moves down.
The simple fact all greens need to internalize is that it's easier to find clean, renewable sources of electricity than it is to find clean, renewable liquid fuels. The logic is inexorable: We need to shift almost all power use to electricity.... electrification has got to be the end goal.
That means dialing back the ethanol frenzy. It means pushing for plug-in hybrids and eventually fully electric vehicles, as well as an electrified national high-speed rail system. But primarily it means escalating the fight against public enemy No. 1: oil.
In California, I and over 50% of the drivers of electric cars have rooftop residential solar electricity. The interest in one led logically to the other. And so we pay neither Big Oil, nor our local utility. A green dream trifecta of energy independence, zero emissions, and zero carbon. If the Sierra Club, NRDC, and the Union of Concerned Scientists awaken from their CAFE-induced slumber and espouse such a message as Roberts' suggests, projects awaiting commercialization from a Toyota plug-in Prius to the Saturn plug-in Vue and the Volt just might get the jolt need. It's about the plug, stupid.