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Conserve Here, Conserve Now: A Lesson from Juneau

On Friday morning, NPR’s All Things Considered revisited the city of Juneau, Alaska two months after a series of avalanches destroyed the city’s main power line. Alaska Electric Light and Power, the only power utility in the state, had to scramble to meet the city’s energy demands with diesel-powered generators.

Overnight, the price of electricity shot up 400–500%.

The response was immediate. Anticipating the massive sticker shock of that first electricity bill, the good people of Juneau didn’t wait around for the next generation of LED lightbulbs or the rollout of the long-awaited (and probably over-hyped) Chevy Volt. Those hardy—and surprisingly resilient—Alaskan folk took matters into their own hands.

The city dimmed or shut off street lights. The International Airport left its runway lights off except when a plane was taking off or landing. People switched from electric to wood stoves, turned down their thermostats, and bundled up indoors. They started doing dishes by hand, with cold water, and hanging laundry to dry on clotheslines. They turned the lights on only when desperately necessary.

The citizens of Juneau were able to collectively cut their power consumption by nearly a third in one week, and maintain that level for the next six weeks.

And although many predicted that Juneauites would resume their pre-crisis levels of electricity consumption once the plant was back up and running, two months out they’ve been able to maintain a level 10% below last summer’s levels (this in spite of an especially cold and wet summer).

So what should we take away from this story? Two things:

  • Americans can and are willing to quickly and drastically change their behavior, given the right incentive—namely, a sucker-punch to the wallet.
  • We don’t have to wait around for radical new technological advances or government intervention—we, as individuals and communities, can do what it takes to lower our consumption of fossil fuels. Today. Right now.

Listen to the whole story here.


Chelsea Green Weekly for May 5, 2017

Ever wonder what your favorite Chelsea Green authors do between writing groundbreaking–both literally and figuratively–books? Here are the best links and resources for your weekend reading pleasure. Let’s start with The Alzheimer’s Antidote. The Alzheimer’s Antidote Amy Berger has been making the rounds on the health, wellness, and fitness circuit, explaining the theories behind her revolutionary […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

The 10 Steps that Establish Your Baby’s Microbiome

Research is emerging almost daily on the role of the microbiome in human health. But how do we acquire this mysterious community of microbes and more importantly how do we make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad? According to a new book by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, Your Baby’s Microbiome, it all starts […] Read More

Prepare! Keep a Grab-n-Go Survival Kit Handy

Are you prepared in the event of a sudden emergency? Blizzard, earthquake, insurrection after the inauguration? We know a lot of people are wondering what’s coming next in the US, as well as the world, given terrorism, politics, and global warming, among other threats. In this excerpt from When Technology Fails, a popular book on […] Read More

Chelsea Green: In the Media 2016

Oh, 2016. Where did the time go? Each year, Chelsea Green receives hundreds of mentions (well over 1000 in 2016) in the media both big and small. From interviews, to excerpts, to opinion pieces by authors we’re always working to make sure that the mission and message of each book is spread far and wide. […] Read More
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