Studio Flowers painting on Ebay

What if we built Utopia. What if instead of spending 750 Billion next year on war, we spent that same money building parks, greenways, schools, solar arrays, mass transit, infrastructure, communal gardens, art, theater, dance, music, and festivals. What if we actually tried to create an Ara Pacis. An Era of Peace. What if we found the world made of steel, plastic, the internal combustion engine, and concrete—and we left it solar, wind, renewable, and marble?

This is my goal.

Where to start? I had a discussion with a dear friend yesterday regarding climate change. It seems there are several camps of ideology on the subject. 1. It is happening. 2. It is not happening.  3. It is happening, but it isn’t our fault.

This last camp is the one my friend believes. Regardless of what you believe, my assertion is this—What could it hurt to be green? What could it hurt to build more parks, drive less, use non-carbon emitting devices, buy local, eat local, become a vegetarian, plant more trees, build more gardens, walkways, bike paths, and mass transit? What could it hurt to become a solar society? What could it hurt to make our rivers clear again? What could it hurt to eat lower down the food chain?

The only thing it could hurt is my sense of entitlement. My sense that I am NOT a part of the ecosystem. The feeling that I am just a small player, and the actions of one are somehow trivial and meaningless to the whole. The idea that I am not powerful to change the world.

We know our oceans are on the verge of collapse, and yet costco is filled with giant bags of shrimp, salmon, and every form of crustacean. We know McDonald’s buys their beef from Brazil where they are cutting down the rainforest to build pastures for cattle. We know that statistically, a crop-by-crop average yield of 47 fruits, vegetables, and nuts (in pounds per acre), according to two different sources far surpasses that of cattle on the same land.

If we calculate the average yield for all of these crops we find it to be 10,642 pounds per one acre of land. One cow, depending on the area (i.e. Hawaii vs. Oklahoma) requires a minimum of  five to forty acres!!! The average cow yields 500 lbs. of food.

1 cow = 5 acres = 500 lbs. of food (food that we know is not good for you)

Fruits/Veg./Nuts = 5 acres = 50,000 lbs. of food

500 vs. 50,000 This is simple math. Feed the world, become a vegetarian Utopia.

Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. A significant portion of these emissions come from methane, which, in terms of its contribution to global warming, is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization says that agricultural methane output could increase by 60 percent by 2030. The world’s 1.5 billion cows and billions of other grazing animals emit dozens of polluting gases, including lots of methane. Two-thirds of all ammonia comes from cows.

 

However, some countries, i.e. not the US, are taking things seriously. Renewable energy output skyrocketed in the United Kingdom last year; total output grew 42%, thanks largely to gains in wind and solar installation. The statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show renewable electricity output during the second quarter of 2012 rose 6.5 per cent year-on-year, while capacity soared 42.4 per cent to, largely as the result of the opening of a raft of new large-scale on- and offshore wind farms and the conversion of the Tilbury B power station to dedicated biomass.

The increases meant that renewables’ share of the UK’s electricity mix edged up to 9.6 per cent a year later

And it was a particularly bad year in terms of renewable-friendly weather conditions, too. Low rainfall meant hydro was less productive than usual, and weak winds meant some turbine farms underperformed. But even in lackluster conditions, the UK still produced a record-breaking amount of clean power.

There’s now more solar power installed in Germany than the rest of Europe combined. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. They will be replaced by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass.

Further evidence still that there’s a sensible, achievable path to an almost-entirely renewable energy-powered world.

 

In California, the governor recently signed 19 renewable energy bills into law. California is among the only states in our fair nation to take climate policy seriously; it’s recently embarked on its own cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon emissions. It’s also the only state with powerful enough energy efficiency laws to keep its general electricity consumption static during a period that the other 49 saw theirs double. Bottom line; CA is ahead of the game on good green governance.

That 19 laws more than the rest of the nation combined.

What will it take? What will it take for people to change? Do we really want the stick, or is the carrot better? Again, what could it hurt to be more green? The only thing it would hurt is our sense of greed.

For the first time ever, the world is facing a choice—Save the Earth, or save a Lifestyle. My friend feels that it is the height of arrogance that a human would believe we puny humans could affect the globe. My friend lives next to a busy road. If anything, getting rid of all the road noise pollution from the loud internal combustion engines for quiet electric motors seems reason enough to motivate anyone to want renewables.

I believe we are more powerful. I believe our power is only limited by our imagination. If my path around the the Earth has taught me anything, it is that we as humans are more powerful than most dare to dream. If we are so weak, where are all the salmon, the wolves, the bears, the buffalo, the passenger pigeon, the panthers, the leopards, the Siberian tigers, the elephants…???

Its our world to waste, or it is our world to save. What do you want your legacy to be?

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