Friday, January 6, 2012

Musings: People Power

It was that quiet time before the dawn, or even the first inklings of it, when our way was lit solely by a sparkly, starry sky, the moon having slipped a couple of hours before into a bed of soft orange perched atop Makaleha, when the dogs and I went out walking. I like to look up at the glorious universe when I'm bummed about anything and everything because it helps me to remember: there's so much more than just this.

Here and there, a light was coming on in a bedroom, a kitchen, save for that one house that is occupied only occasionally, and so the lights are always on, as if burglars aren't wise to that trick.

I've been paying a lot more attention to lights — or more specifically, electricity — and our wantonly wasteful use of it in preparation for Sunday's Power Down! event. When I first heard the call to unplug from dawn to dusk, I thought, “Yeah, right. What good will that do?” But then I interviewed its brainchild, the very brainy and witty Jonathan Jay, for a For Kauai article and my thinking changed.

I like it primarily because it's about helping our thinking to change, about coaxing us to become conscious of what we're doing. And god(dess) knows we need more of that. As Jonathan noted:

“[It's] all about trying to discover the value of getting by with less, saying yes to the power of less. It's about right-sizing our relationship to the world.”


But it's not just a consciousness-raising exercise, though that would be fine in and of itself. As Jonathan points out, if we all got serious about reducing demand, KIUC wouldn't be under so much pressure to supply, whether it's by exporting $80-to-$100 million annually to import the 30 million gallons of diesel fuel used in its Port Allen generators or pursuing “green energy” that isn't truly green.

“If everyone used 10 to 15 percent less, that would shave off 10 megawatts of consumption and we wouldn't have to build a dam on the Wailua River,” Jay says. “That's one example of how we can improve life on this island.”

In other words, we have power, people!

When Jonathan came on Jimmy Trujillo's KKCR show to talk about this yesterday, a man called in and asked, why stop there? Why not reduce gasoline consumption by slowing down and not driving aimlessly around the island?

Yeah, why not? Point is, we can all do a lot more by using a lot less. In many ways, that's about the most revolutionary act you can commit in our consumerist society, without having to worry about being indefinitely detained as a terrorist.

Which leads me to a really excellent article that clearly explains the most troubling aspects of the National Defense Authorization Act. It was sent to me in an email that had as its subject line: NDAA: Open Season for the Police State.

A lot of people, primarily the Obama apologists — one of whom I had to “unfriend” on Facebook because I just couldn't stand another post like “America has a very ungrateful electorate” — are trying to claim it's not so bad, Americans are safe from the Act's provisions.

It is. We aren't.

Its language is subjective and its powers are broad. Since 9-11, our buds in Congress have been steadily chipping away at fundamental rights that we've come to take for granted — just like the electricity that's (almost always) there when we flip a switch.

But ya know, we got the power. Shine your light bright.


Anonymous said...

Sure...power down for about 10-12 hours in some symbolic gesture. Then power back up because we can't really live without it.

Next, try living for, say, 3 months, without any product made in China or with components/ingredients from China.

Combine that with no power and we'll all live a happy 19th century lifestyle.

I'll stay with the 21st century, thank you very much.

BTW - I have net metering so my electric bill is about $20/month...the minimum cost to have a meter hung on the house.

Anonymous said...

We're such "creatures of habit", and the surest way of maintaining the status quo is to simply accept things as they are and continue complaining about why things ain't so good!
"We have met the enemy, and he is us!"

Anonymous said...

We have made life very complicated with all our electronic "addictions".

Public transportation is "sketchy" and riding a bike without bike lanes is dangerous.

But, as a culture, we are lazy. And we keep lights on, devices plugged in and buy appliances that "eat" lots of electricity.

The Cheap solutions might not be practical nor environmentally "kosher" like burning coal.

But theoretically we could use Sun and Wind energy (windward side) to fuel our addictions. Start up costs are expensive for the average person or if you rent...what do you do?

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

Sure...power down for about 10-12 hours in some symbolic gesture. Then power back up because we can't really live without it.

Why can't you? many of us do.

Anonymous said...

Why can't I?

Because I'm not into: A) symbolic gestures; B) living a 19th century lifestyle.

I want all the 21st century can give me. I'll take the good with the bad since the bad doesn't impact my life in any discernible way, nor will it for the approx. 25 years I have left here.

Mortgaging the future? You betcha!

Anonymous said...

Yawn! Dude, you'll be charged with murder for boring those around you to death before 25 years go by. You sound like my grandfather. He keeps repeating himself, too.

Anonymous said...

I'll take my lifestyle over any of those proposed by the aging hippies and neo-hippies living on that little Gilligan's Island zoo you have there.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the English Beat song:
I just found out the name of your best friend,
you been talkin' about yourself again,
and no one seems to share your views.
why doesn't everybody listen to you kid?
how come you never really seem to get through, is it you?
talk about yourself again, you.
talk about yourself,
always you, you, you.
talk about yourself again.


Anonymous said...

It's my world and you just get to live in it.

Anonymous said...

Therein lies the problem.

Anonymous said...

Problem? I don't have a problem.

Anonymous said...

Lack of awareness is the problem. You are exhibit A.