Santa Barbara is serious about lowering carbon emissions. Guided by a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions study, they’re adding solar panels to city buildings, requiring lower energy usage for new buildings, switching to biodiesel and hybrid vehicles, and giving free bus passes to downtown workers. City councilmember Das Williams urges citizens to push officials to make substantive (i.e. funded) changes to mitigate the effects of peak oil and climate change. [www.santabarbaraca.gov]
Lorraine Wilde’s non-profit Community Car Share organization in Bellingham, Washington received startup help from many quarters. Established car-sharing organizations mentored her, individuals offered low-interest private loans, a state grant enabled them to purchase a hybrid, and the city provided a fixed parking place by the bus station. Learn how she did it, then set one up in your community! [www.communitycarshare.org]
City Councilor Scott Walker of Port Townsend, Washington is working to build a walkable, bikeable community where the car is not essential. As a result, the town has designated many undeveloped streets and “connectors” as non-motorized routes. He says, “Build safe, convenient facilities for walking and biking, and they sprout people.” Watch Janaia test ride Scott’s electric bike, which “flattens the town” as if there were no hills.
Permaculturist David Blume discusses alcohol’s low emissions, and producing alcohol as a biological complex in which wastes become raw materials for other processes. He claims that with one year of the U.S. Defense budget, the entire world could be set up to produce alcohol and permanently replace oil for transportation. He discusses vehicle conversion, and how citizens can undertake alcohol fuel distribution. [www.permaculture.com]
Cal Broomhead and Melissa Capria of the Energy & Climate Program discuss the rationale, aggressive plans, and activities for city-wide energy self-reliance and greenhouse gas reduction. Tools include energy efficiency in buildings, transit alternatives, alternative vehicle fuels, generating electricity with renewable energy, and solid waste reduction. [www.sfenvironment.org]
Smart municipalities are planning and preparing for energy vulnerability and climate change. Daniel Lerch, manager of the Post Carbon Cities project, has prepared a guidebook including case studies of cities large and small planning how to maintain essential services in the face of energy and climate uncertainty. [www.postcarboncities.net]
Peak oil educator and author Richard Heinberg discusses what communities can do to prepare for peak oil. He covers transportation, including a novel ride-sharing scheme, assessing municipal vulnerabilities, local food and energy production, as well as the Hirsch report’s conclusion that 20 years will be needed to make an energy transition — very possibly more time than we have. [www.richardheinberg.com]
Otmar Ebenhoech has worked with electric vehicles for decades, watching as popular commercial EVs were developed, then recalled when their legal mandate was overturned. He sees improved battery technologies as the catalyst to enable widespread acceptance of EV’s. Peek under the hood and watch a test drive of his hot electric Porsche race car conversion (0-60 in less than 5 seconds!). [www.cafeelectric.com]