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Latinos do it, Swedes do it — even those who live in Leeds do it: Let’s do it, let’s go for green

I was going to begin this by warning everyone that the British were coming. But after Sarah Palin’s recent comments I was worried I might confuse her, so instead drew on Cole Porter. He’s catchy, his tune and lyrics are singable, and this is one tune that really, really needs to catch on.

The New York Times reported, in an article titled, “U.S. Is Falling Behind in the Business of ‘Green,”  that there’s a new kid in town: The Mark Group, based originally in Leicester, England – with brand spanking new offices recently opened in Philadelphia.

Somehow, that seems an appropriate place for a British Invasion.

The Mark Group is a company that specializes in green home energy. After the British government mandated that all older homes (and if you have been to Britain you know there are a lot) be upgraded to increase energy efficiency, the Mark Group was extremely busy there. Once that market had been retrofitted with new insulation and other energy improvements – saving the average homeowner 20 to30 percent in their annual heating bills – The Mark Group found itself looking for business.

And there new venture was just a former colony away.

Squabbling leaves policy issues stalled
For whatever reason, bipartisan politics in the United States have things stalled in Congress. I know this is shocking – the U.S.? Polarized? A whole lot of nothing seems to be going on and for no good reason. I know the government chunk of my paycheck regularly finds itself to the U.S. Treasury. What I am not sure about it is where, once they have it, they are putting it to good use. If interparty squabbling traded on the stock market, there would be no national debt.

In any case, the country that I grew up in – the one that was the greatest in the world, the one that put a man on the moon, the one that created the world’s greatest democracy – has faltered, and if we don’t get busy, pretty soon the label “Made in the USA” will have the pejorative meaning that “Made in China” used to. Because in the field of green, others are whipping our butts.

The Danes, the Germans, the Koreans and our former oppressors are at the forefront of the energy issue. And we are lagging so far behind that we don’t even deserve the compensatory ribbon “For Participation.”

According to the Times article, China is now offering such significant tax incentives and loans on efficient energy solutions that it has sparked a new enterpreneurial energy (pardon the pun) in China. Entrepreneurs. In China. Who’d a thunk?

Contrast with Britain
Green-energy options lag in the U.S. – behind almost all industrialized countries. Britain may have given us taxation without representation, but it is now giving its citizens savings of one-third of their energy bills – and reducing CO₂ emissions and dependence on fossil fuels in the bargain.

For whatever reason, it has been able to create strong, bipartisan support for green energy. Here in the United States, our Congress can’t seem to decide whether El Niño is real, or whether we should exchange coal mines for wind farms. But we can seem to focus on the genitalia of certain members to the distraction of all other things.

Ignoring a larger downfall
In the meantime, while Washington and the media delight in a downfall, we are ignoring the other, larger downfall that is perilously close.

If we continue our dependence on fossil fuels, in disregard for renewable and clean solar, wind and especially hydro energy, we will fail. We will fail as a nation, we will fail as an economic power and, most important, we will fail the vision that our forefathers had for us.

Who knew, 200-plus years later, that “The British Are Coming!” might actually be just the sound, in 2011, that we needed to hear?

Carrie Daklin is a Twin Cities freelance writer.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/16/2011 - 02:15 pm.

    Some technical input for Ms Daklin.
    Her favorite, hydro energy, will actually decline as more environmentally damaging dams are removed. All the good locations for dams are taken.
    Wind and solar already receive billions here in massive subsidies. They need those subsidies as they are not competitive or particularly effective. Wind turbines require huge amounts of steel and concrete whose production is not green.
    There are 2400 solar panels on the roof of the Minneapolis Convention Center. Their total annual electric output equals about 55 minutes from the carbon free Prairie Island nuclear plant near Red Wing.
    Denmark is the poster country for green energy, especially wind. If you ‘thunk’ about it, you find its results are exaggerated. It still uses mostly coal and its wind contribution is less than 10%, not the 20% and more that non-technical writers and politicians believe. Denmark has actually stopped ALL on shore wind because of massive complaints from residents who are driven up the wall by the noise.
    And China’s increasing coal usage continues unabated.etc, etc, etc.

  2. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/19/2011 - 08:34 am.

    More on Ms Daklin’s nursery rime energy article. She says:
    “Britain may have given us taxation without representation, but it is now giving its citizens savings of one-third of their energy bills – and reducing CO₂ emissions and dependence on fossil fuels in the bargain.”
    The truth is the opposite. A new study from Verso shows that UK consumers are out an extra $2 billion/year from wind and solar projects, and that no fossil fuel capacity has been replaced.
    Ms Daklin says we are way behind other countries in renewables like wind and solar. As of early 2011, the US and China each had 42,000 MW of wind energy, far ahead of any other country.
    We also lead the world in total concentrated solar power(CSP) projects that are most suitable for utility scale output. The new Ivanpah solar project in Nevada will be the largest solar system in the world.
    Britain’s renewable projects are actually second rate, and any sounds from the “British are coming” will require some very sensitive hearing.

  3. Submitted by rolf westgard on 06/21/2011 - 01:10 pm.

    Since Ms Daklin mentioned Leeds, England, I couldn’t resist this post from the main Yorkshire newspaper:

    “Campaigners in East Leeds are celebrating after controversial wind farm proposals were thrown out by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.
    Durham-based company Banks Renewables appealed to the inspectorate after its application for the scheme on green belt land, pictured, at Hook Moor, near Micklefield was rejected by Leeds City Council in July last year.
    The planning inspector who handled the case deciding it would cause harm to the green belt and its visual amenities”.
    The verdict was welcomed by the Hook Moor Wind Farm Action Group, which spearheaded opposition to the scheme.
    Group spokeswoman Carolyn Walker said: “We’re delighted with the outcome – it bears out what we have been saying all along.”

    So even those who live in Leeds are not doing it.

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