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Necessity is the Mother of … Conservation

The New York Times recently posted story about the power-crisis facing the city of Juneau, Alaska. On April 16th, an avalanche cut them off from a local hydroelectric dam that supplied 80 percent of the city’s electricity. Back-up power, from diesel generators, is tiding them over until power can be restored in late June.

Using these diesel generators would have been all well and good in the days of cheap fuel, but as we all know, diesel fuel these days costs well up over $4/gallon in the contiguous 48, and is likely much pricier up in Alaska. Electricity bills for residents and businesses in the city have skyrocketed—literally overnight—by 400 percent.

Just as Americans on the mainland are avoiding high transportation fuel costs by bicycling to work, buying smaller cars, and carpooling, the Alaskans are avoiding high electricity fuel costs in other ways: reading in the evenings, walking to work, going to bed earlier, and turning off the walls of TVs at the local electronics store. Using these measures, Juneau has managed to cut its collective energy bill by a staggering 30 percent in just a few weeks.

Juneau’s conservationist actions, even though triggered by financial necessity, should serve as an inspiration to the rest of us. Do we need 33 degree water at all times? How hot does our dishwasher really need to be? How many beeping/blinking/buzzing gadgets can we stand to carry? Can we forego some of this luxury in exchange for lower energy bills and greater peace of mind? It sounds like a good deal to me. So let’s get to it!

Read the Times’ full story here.


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In the future, what will our local economies look like? How will they function if there is little, to no, state or national support? The late David Fleming envisioned a post-capitalistic society that we could call “deep local” — in which all needs are met at the local level — from income to social capital […] Read More

Happy Holidays from Chelsea Green Publishing!

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Sex, Violence, and Figs

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10 Fascinating Fig Facts

“As our planet’s climate changes and reminds us that nature really does matter, the story [of fig trees] has important lessons for us all.” –Mike Shanahan In short, fig trees are awesome. They have been around for 80 million years and during that time they have shaped our world and impacted humanity in profound but […] Read More

Author Nicolette Hahn Niman to Speak at Nobel Dialogue on the Future of Food

What does a former environmental lawyer and vegetarian turned cattle rancher have in common with Bob Dylan? They’ll both be — theoretically — in Stockholm in December during the Nobel Prize ceremonies. That’s right – Chelsea Green author Nicolette Hahn Niman will be one of several global opinion leaders and experts taking part in this […] Read More
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