Waste Not Want Not

VOTE. Your vote matters

by Phil Anderson

Before getting into this week's article I want to remind Wisconsin readers of the special election next week.  

Wisconsin Special Election  

Tuesday February 18 candidates are being selected in two primary races: ·       The non-partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court election will select two of three candidates to go on to the April 7th general election. The three people running are incumbent Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky, and Marquette University Law professor Ed Fallone. Background on these candidates is in my January 16, 2020 article.

The 7th District U.S. House of Representatives partisan primary has four candidates –two from each party. The Democrats are Tricia Zunker, an attorney and Associate Justice of the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court, and Lawrence Dale, a small businessman and former Green Party candidate for this congressional seat. On the Republican side Jason Church is a U.S. Army Afghanistan Veteran and former staffer for U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Tom Tiffany is a Wisconsin State Senator and small business owner. For more on these candidates see my November 28, 2019 article. The general election for this House seat will be May 12, 2020.  

VOTE. Your vote matters.   Waste Not Want Not  

 

“What is America’s newest leadership position? It’s energy waste.” Eric Savitz in Forbes magazine, 2013   “Energy efficiency is a powerful tool that has delivered greater economic growth, reduced emissions, and enhanced our quality of life on a massive scale.” The authors of the 2019Energy Efficiency Impact Report”   Conservation and reducing energy consumption is more cost effective than building new power plants. Helping people use less energy is cheaper for utility companies than new power plants and transmission lines. More energy efficiency is better for everyone, including the environment. This is a well known, but too often ignored, reality.  

We are a wasteful people. Over half the energy used in our society is wasted. Some of this is because many of our machines – cars, furnaces, air conditioners, houses, factories, etc., – are not very efficient. This energy is lost in normal operation due to heat, friction, combustion exhaust, or leaks. We have made improvements on these physical problems in recent decades, but more progress is still achievable.    

We also waste a lot because of our lifestyle choices and attitudes. We have the expertise and technology to do better but we choose not to change. As individuals we continue to buy bigger vehicles and build bigger houses. In business too many “leaders” would rather make the short term profit than invest in the long term greater return. So we stay tied to fossil fuels when the future is renewable energy. In government the politicians are more concerned with campaign contributions and the next election than the long term public good. So climate deniers continue to obstruct sensible solutions recommended by experts.  

There are many non-partisan experts who are showing us a better way. There are sensible, cost effective solutions available, with existing technologies, to improve energy efficiency and reduce wasteful consumption. This is the message of the 2019Energy Efficiency Impact Report” written by the Alliance to Save Energy, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (these are business oriented advocates for “free market solutions” NOT tree hugging socialists!). The report examines past energy efficiency investments and documents the savings, resulting job growth, carbon emissions reductions, and the value to the economy. The reports concludes,  

Energy efficiency programs have been repeatedly shown to be highly cost-effective, marking energy efficiency as one of the most affordable resources for utilities.”   “Without the energy efficiency investments made since 1980, energy consumption and emissions would have been 60% higher, and consumers would be paying nearly $800 billion more per year in energy costs.”  

The report highlights six successful policies that made this possible: vehicle fuel economy standards, appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards, the Energy Star program, power plant efficiency requirements, federal research and development, and energy related building codes. The results of this have been good for everyone.  

“Energy efficiency has saved billions in energy expenditures by families and businesses, but it has also done much more: created millions of jobs, reduced climate emissions, enhanced public health, improved comfort and commercial productivity...”  

These sensible polices DO NOT KILL JOBS or hurt the economy as is frequently claimed by the conservative politicians. The report says, “The 2.3 million energy efficiency jobs in the U.S. make up 40% of all energy jobs with 70% of the workers employed by small businesses.” Despite the success of energy efficiency efforts the reports says we are going backwards. Energy efficiency improvements could deliver half of emissions reductions needed for the U.S to meet Paris Agreement climate targets. But the U.S. is not on track to achieve these reductions. Rather, conservative politicians, especially at the federal level, are reversing standards, cutting tax incentives, and funds for research and the popular Energy Star program. Again the report says it best.  

“Estimated total U.S. energy efficiency investment levels from 2016 to 2018 have fallen by almost 20%.”  

“However, to move forward as a nation, strong and consistent support for the continued growth of energy efficiency is critical.” (emphasis added) Who was in charge between 2016 and 2018? Which “leaders” are taking us backward? It's the same ignorant, short sighted oil and gas industry lap-dogs who think climate change is a hoax, environmental protection kills jobs, and the sensible “green new deal” is socialism. It amazes me that these ideologically deluded, uninformed, inferior “leaders” ever get elected.. But I digress. The report points out that leadership is key to making progress.  

Decades of experience have taught us that energy efficiency doesn’t always happen on its own: it requires proactive support among diverse stakeholders to see its benefits and work together to realize them.”  

Being less wasteful and promoting energy efficiency is a win-win for everyone. We can, and must, do better by building on past success. We need leadership to make this happen but we also need people to adopt less wasteful lifestyles while working together for a cleaner future.

Waste not – want not.