I just got back from the Re-Energize America town hall meeting in Orlando. A Florida senator, Lee Constantine, was there, along with someone from the National Resources Defense Council, the Florida Solar Energy Center, a retired Navy Vice-Admiral, a city councilman, and a reverend. They talked about environmental conservation, from every possible viewpoint: environmental (of course), economic, military, political, and religious.
But nobody said anything about EVs. Hybrids, sure; even plug-in hybrids, which the "mainstream media" still hasn't caught on to yet. But why not EVs?
My friend Clayton had driven me there (carpooling is better than taking individual trips: what you can, where you are, with what you have). We enjoyed it: the speakers were largely capable, and each had an interesting point to make.
First Jim Presswood, of the National Resources Defense Council, spoke on the environmental issues. Clayton says it was a lot like "An Inconvenient Truth", but less entertaining. Mr. Presswood spoke a little too fast, but he was covering a lot of ground in very little time. He did touch on plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), even pointing out that 30 miles without gas would cover the average trip for 95% of Americans. But his big point was efficiency: the more efficient we make our energy usage, the less pollution we'll make, and the better off we'll be.
Then came James Fenton, of the Florida Solar Energy Center. Mr. Fenton was a capable speaker, although he seemed to expect us to be more surprised by his data. He explained that Florida is the 5th greatest energy consumer in the United States, and that we spend $20 billion on power every year. Since we have no natural gas or coal resources, that's money we give to other states. He also pointed out that, if just 15% of new houses and 1% of existing houses put up solar cells, and a few other energy efficiency measures were taken, we could cut our energy demand from 75 TeraWatts to only 50 TW (projected for 2014). He came back to the economic points again, pointing out how this would create jobs and save us a huge chunk of money that could stay in Florida.
Senator Lee Constantine spoke next. He was a good speaker, making his points without being either too forceful or too hesitant. He pointed out that, since Florida refuses to drill off the coast, Florida has the responsibility to lead the way in energy alternatives. He also pointed out that this is a huge economic opportunity. He made us aware that Florida now has an energy commission, completely separate from the government so that it can concentrate on a long-term vision instead of the fad of the day. Finally, he wrapped it up with a bit of fear: "We need to stop buying oil from nations that hate us."
Next up, retired Navy Vice-Admiral Dennis McGinn. Mr. McGinn repeated the "addicted to oil" message, then moved on to an interesting statistic: last week, two leaders stood up in the UN meetings in New York and insulted our leader, our people, and our government; but in the two minutes he had taken speaking thus far, we had given then half a million dollars. After some more points indicating that we'd continue to fight to keep our oil secure, he wrapped up by saying that the problem is military, but also diplomatic and economic.
Finally, Reverend Joel Hunter of the Northland church in Longwood, FL, got to speak. Now, reverends make me nervous. More specifically, the way people react to reverends makes me nervous. But I expected something a little different here, because Rev. Hunter wrote the book, "Right Wing, Wrong Bird". He concluded the panel by saying "we need stewardship of this great prize God has given us." This drew applause from the audience, when none of the other speakers had garnered any. (This is what worries me about people reacting to holy men.) He went on to quote Genesis 2:15, saying that the words "cultivate and preserve" meant "serve and protect". He also said that "God has a place in his heart for the poor", pointing out that those without resources would be most affected, and early on, too.
Finally the panel concluded, with the councilman (Commisioner Robert Stuart) informing us that the city council building is carbon-neutral, and that we could buy a $2 sticker with proceeds benefitting alternative energy farms to offset the carbon cost of our car trips.
Not bad, really. Worth watching, even if EVs weren't involved. Even the question-and-answer period was interesting, although Senator Constantine had to leave early. And that leads to my real problem: why do all the crazies get to talk first?