During some of the 1970s, I went through a phase where I was fascinated by the periodical Mother Earth News.  I'd never seen so many photos and illustrations of solar and wind energy systems.  I longed for the days when these would be our primary energy sources, but never imagined I'd live to see it happening.

Over 20 years ago, when wind farms and solar panels started appearing, I felt a sense of joy when I saw them for a few years.

But now, the party's over, and I'm concerned about problems we may encounter in our dash to renewables, such as the uglification of the countryside.  When I want to escape the city for some soothing country scenery, I, like millions of people, like to see as few objects made by humanity as possible - the fewer, the better.

Solar and wind farms have already prostituted the beauty of much American landscape, and from all the predictions, much, much more will be prostituted to meet our energy goals.  One source says we'll need land the size of West Virginia for all our solar farms, and another source says we'll need more than that.  Don't be surprised if some of your favorite scenery is compromised.

And with all this energy being produced in the country needing to go to cities to be used, we're going to need all sorts of new utility lines to further degrade our landscapes, uglifying them even more.  Where is Lady Bird Johnson when we really need her again?  In the 1960s, during President Johnson's administration, as the First Lady, she had a national campaign to clean up our countryside from the overuse of billboards, many of them dilapidated.  It was a much more beautiful country to drive around when she got done.  We need her spirit again, because without it, it's going to be a less attractive nation to drive around once more.  America the (once) Beautiful?

We need fewer utility lines to preserve the nation's beauty, and to reduce the amount of energy we lose without being used.  The more miles we transport energy through wires, the more energy we lose.  We should try to produce as much energy as possible near to where it's going to be used.  We need to place greater emphasis on rooftop solar to reduce the problems we're having and going to have with solar and wind farms.

Solar farms may uglify the nation further by deciding which plants and animals can live, and which can die.  Can you imagine being a plant or animal that's spent your entire life hanging out on a hillside that gets lots of sun, when all of a sudden, a solar farm is built over your hillside, and the land is now always in shade?  This could be an Auschwitz for some of those plants and animals.  Yet solar farm supporters will tell you about certain plants that thrive near the farms and how they can help pollinators.  But how do we know this is better than what was there before the solar farm?

I'm concerned our quest for solar farms and turning so much sunny land to shady land may be the death knell of the migrating Monarch butterfly, which has been on the ropes for years.  Monarchs need milkweed to lay their eggs, and milkweed needs sun to grow.  How much land can we take out of sunlight and put in to shade without losing huge tracts of land where milkweed was growing or could grow?  The migrating Monarch has already lost habitat where it winters in Mexico, and where milkweed might be found to lay its eggs along its annual migration.  How much more habitat lose can it stand before it becomes extinct?  And has anyone yet to see milkweed growing in the shade of solar farms?

Anyone interested in reading more about the current plight of the migrating Monarch should read Bicycling with Butterflies, by Sara Dykman.  She rode her bike following the migrating Monarchs over 10,000 miles from the mountains in Mexico where their journey starts every spring, to Canada, and back to their winter nesting grounds in Mexico.  It's the longest insect migration in the world.  I asked her if she thought solar farms might be the death kneel of migrating Monarchs.  Her response:     
I agree! Solar farms should be built on parking lots! They should not be allowed on wild prairies and deserts! The folly of humanity continues to disappoint me.

Somehow I feel enlightened every time I see a Monarch, maybe as to how beautiful life can be.  Not only are they physically attractive, but to me, it flies with more grace than anything else.  Summers wouldn't be the same without them flying in and out of my life.

  Posted April 1, 2024 by Steve Kokette 

 

 One would think with the fix our species is in that there would be laws throughout the land that demand all new construction - commercial and residential - be built so they use solar panels and/or geothermal, but it's not that way.  The city I live in - Madison, Wisconsin - is anticipating population growth and has been building housing developments (i.e., apartment buildings) like crazy that all look the same.  They're three, four, or five stories tall, with the first floor devoted to commercial enterprises.  The most frustrating aspect of this is the city cannot, because of state law, demand developers incorporate solar panels and/or geothermal in to new structures.  So we're seeing a lot of new roofs in Madison that aren't incorporating solar panels.  You might want to find out what the laws are in your state regarding this issue, and work with others to have them changed, if necessary. If the entire nation had such laws, it would create greater demand for solar panels, which would, at least in theory, drive the price of solar panels down. 

Posted April 12, 2024 by Steve Kokette 

 . 

Many are predicting climate change will slowly eat away at local economies throughout the world.  A recent prediction by Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research predicted in 25 years the average income in the world will be 19% less.  Many communities will find they are less prosperous.  Communities will be looking for ways to keep as much of their wealth from leaving the area as possible.  One way to help do this is by passing laws requiring new buildings be built so they use renewables.  Those who build such buildings will often be local, and it will put more money in their pockets over the long haul, and that will help communities gain wealth, while also helping to clean the air with less pollution.  Maybe someday we'll no longer have to be exposed to articles about American kids having asthma because of air pollution.

Posted April 21, 2024 by Steve Kokette


 

Renewable energy in new buildings should be as common as indoor plumbing in new buildings..

Posted April 23, 2024 by Steve Kokette                                                                                       

 

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers have a wonderful song tribute to Jimi Hendrix called Accidental Suicide.  Some of the lyrics are:  Drugs can bring you joy, but the danger is that they destroy.  Isn't it that way with fossil fuels?  Fossil fuels can bring you joy, but the danger is that they destroy.

Posted April 27, 2024 by Steve Kokette

 

For California this very issue is in various stages of implementation after lots of regulatory and political debate in the past few years. For instance, most new houses are required to have rooftop solar.  So writes Edric Guise, the Group Leader for the South Bay Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Posted April 30, 2024 by Steve Kokette

 

Renewable energy in new buildings is going to keep more money in local communities than new buildings using fossil fuels.

Posted May 1, 2024 by Steve Kokette

 

Governor Evers,

I encourage you to call for the legislature to pass a law to help keep more money in Wisconsin before the session ends.  How many Republicans are going to vote against such a bill?If they do, they'll have to face voters soon about having done so.

Give a speech stating you want a law passed that requires all new buildings in Wisconsin be constructed to use renewable energy.  This will help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and that will keep more money in Wisconsin.  

California has a law requiring most new homes be built with solar panels.   Wisconsin law might want to add heat pumps, and consider commercial, residential, and all other new buildings too.

I've been writing about the issue in the Potpourri section of www.buyrenewablesnow.com.  I intend to place this email in the Potpourri section.

Posted May 4, 2024 by Steve Kokette


This was emailed to Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway on May 7, 2024:

As long as you're going to keep building fossil fuel consuming housing developments, I implore you to start speaking out publicly for laws in Wisconsin that require new buildings to be built so they use renewable energy. Many people, including myself, would feel guilty if they had been responsible for building as many fossil fuel guzzling buildings as you've built without speaking out requesting state laws requiring all new buildings to have renewable energy. It's doable. California's done it. Why do we always follow in California's foot steps? So why aren't you speaking out for such laws? Also, please let me know where I can get the two campaign lists of donations to your two mayoral campaigns. Are they online?

Posted May 8, 2024 by Steve Kokette


This was emailed to Wisconsin's Governor Evers May14, 2024:

Governor Evers,

Would you please send me a list of all the campaign donations you've taken from fossil fuel interests in your two campaigns for governor?

Better yet, why don't you place complete lists of all the campaign donations you've taken in your campaigns for governor on your website?  Post something similar to what the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has done with your campaign donation records.  The citizenry has a right to know this type of information in democracies, and it should be easy to access for all to help them decide how to vote.

And when placing such info on your website, why don't you publicly state you'd like to see laws throughout the nation that demand those elected to public offices have to provide this type of information on the website for the office they won.  I think millions of people would like to have easy access to such information to learn about candidates, and the easiest way to do this for citizens would be to have every elected office holder provide their own information on their own office website.

I think it would be very beneficial in learning more about our public officials.  How many thousands of political candidates in the U.S. will tell you they're extremely concerned about climate change, but their campaigns have taken much more money from fossil fuel interests than climate change interests?  This may be the crux of the problem for all those who feel the pace of climate change legislation is lethargic in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

And do consider proclaiming that you will no longer accept money from fossil fuel interests in any possible future campaigns for office.

Steve Kokette


If you want to encourage Governor Evers to place this information on his website, his email address is govinfo@wisconsin.gov.

Posted May 14, 2024 by Steve Kokette



This was emailed May 15, 2024:
Wisconsin State Senator Roys,

Thanks for your email.  I believe Democrats in Wisconsin and other states have blown opportunities to get the legislation I'm suggesting passed because of their lack of imagination.  In many state legislatures, the Republicans will vote against climate change laws and the Democrats will vote for them.  The legislation I'm suggesting should not be sold to the public primarily as a climate change law, but as a law that will keep money in their state because their state will be consuming fewer fossil fuels.  Polling consistently shows the public is more concerned about pocketbook issues than climate change.  So make it a pocketbook issue and if Republicans want to vote against keeping money in their state, let people know about it.

I recently sent Governor Evers an email asking him to place a list of all his campaign contributions on his website.  I encourage you to do this too.  One reason climate change legislation is moving so slowly for many people is that we have too many politicians and elected public officials who have taken more money from fossil fuel interests than climate change interests, yet they'll tell you how concerned they are about climate change.  People should easily be able to access this information.  You can read the email I sent to Evers in the Potpourri section of www.buyrenewablesnow.com.  It was posted May 14, 2024.  The email you're reading will be listed there too.

I encourage you to announce you're no longer taking contributions from fossil fuel businesses.

(Another reason climate change legislation may be moving so slowly is that we're a nation filled with emaciated newspapers teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and they are fearful of losing advertisers.  Many get advertising revenue from their local energy (i.e., fossil fuel) utility, and they don't want to be too critical of these utilities for fear of losing their accounts.)  

If Trump should win the presidential election, he intends to undo the Inflation Reduction Act, and far greater pressure will be placed on the states to reduce climate change, and the legislation I've suggested would be one of your best bets.

California already has legislation requiring most new homes to be built with solar panels.  Why are we always following in California's footsteps when Wisconsin used to lead?  The Wisconsin law should encompass all new buildings, not just residential, and perhaps include heat pumps too.

Posted May 15, 2024 by Steve Kokette



Next time you're near a liquor store with some time to spare, go inside and ask them for a list of beers, wines, and spirits they sell that are made by businesses that have done renewable energy projects.  If they can do so, consider buying something from them made from renewables, or at least telling them you may be back to buy something.  You might also want to try doing this by phone, especially if you're too young to go in liquor stores.  You may want to let them know they can find lists of beers and wines made from renewables at www.buyrenewablesnow.com.

Posted May 17, 2024 by Steve Kokette