Monday, November 21, 2016

Why I live as sustainably as I can

Since 2001, I have been doing my best to live as sustainably as I can.  There are several reasons for my commitment.


I'm an engineer dammit!  I enjoy the challenge of using technology to reduce my carbon footprint.  This includes increasing the efficiency of my home and workshop, installing renewable energy systems such as solar power, water heating and building heating and driving a state-of-the-art electric vehicle.  And as a geeky engineer, I choose to monitor and share data from all of the energy efficiency and renewable energy systems that I have installed on  my website. Here are some links to various pages on my site with live data feeds
Solar electric power system - live performance

Solar domestic water heater - live temperatures

Solar building heating system for my workshop - live temperatures

Heat recovery ventilation system - live temperatures

And much more on my Living Sustainably page

I also designed and manufacture a line of products designed to improve the performance of solar thermal heating systems.


I'm also an artist and cultural creative.  As such I tend to see outside the box and live a life unconstrained by convention.  As an avid reader of science fiction, I tend to view the world through the lens of an imaginary alien anthropologist and this perspective informs many of my opinions and decisions.  An alien visiting planet Earth for the first time would be truly appalled at the massive scale of devastation we are wreaking on our ecosystem.


Last, but by no means least, I am deeply concerned about the impact of climate change.  I hope that by modeling a sustainable lifestyle that I am demonstrating a viable low carbon footprint existence for humanity.  I look at young people today and have great concern for their future and all generations to come.  I have heard that Native Americans always made decisions with a view to the following seven generations, and that is the way that I choose to operate as well.

Wake-up time.

It is clear to me that the earth has already crossed the tipping point and climate change is accelerating so rapidly that the impacts are already being felt all over the world.  All we can do it this point is to try to slow things down.  It is only going to get worse and all the international climate accords are too little and too late.  Anyone who chooses to pay attention will see climate related news almost every day:
increased severe weather events
shrinking Arctic ice cover
Climate change in general
epic droughts
raging wildfires
frequent coastal flooding due to ocean level rise
plant and animal species extinctions
coral reefs dying

The thing that most surprises me is how few people are truly acting to avert this disaster in a daily conscious way.  I am both saddened and angered by the failures of the family of humankind.  It appalls me that there are people who "don't believe in climate change", this is like saying that you don't believe the sky is blue.  It is not a matter of opinion, the facts are plain and clear.  We are all in this together regardless of nation, race, ideology, religion or identity.  This is the greatest crisis ever to face humanity and we all need to wake the heck up and contribute.  It is not enough to do the token gestures of recycling and composting etc.  It is time to reach deep into our hearts and wallets and make commitments to reduce our carbon footprints at every opportunity.  Almost every time you make a purchase, you are voting for or against a sustainable future for humanity.

For myself, I have found the whole process of implementing renewable energy and technology to be rewarding.  For example,I actually look forward to getting my electric bill which usually shows an energy surplus for 6 or 7 months of the year for which I am later credited.  I am also enjoying driving my 2017 Chevy Volt electric vehicle which is powered largely from free solar energy.  It is an amazing and fun vehicle to own and operate and I use less than 60 gallons of gas per YEAR to drive in "range extended" mode at over 40 miles per gallon. 

Every single astronaut who has had the opportunity to look down at our little blue marble is profoundly impacted by the experience.  They all describe it as a spiritual transformation in which they see the whole world as one without boundaries.  They talk about being overwhelmed by a feeling of love as if the whole planet were their own child.  Click here or on the image above to see a live video feed from the International Space Station and just sit with it for a while. We live on the surface of a beautiful and unique planet.  Humanity cannot survive without a viable ecosytem, but the planet will continue with or without us.

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