Things We Can Do in Our Community to Help Save the Planet

The issue of global warming has finally captured the media, public, and politician of the left side’s attention. Yes, it is probably about 20 years later than it should have been and the effects of global warming appear almost undoubtedly to be upon us. We have wasted too much time with debates as to whether global warming is happening and what is causing it and not enough time figuring out ways to mitigate the damages.

I give the city of Davis some credit in looking into ways that the city can reduce its carbon footprint. But I do not believe the city has gone far enough. And in many ways, the measures that it has taken on other issues, will counteract efforts to reduce our carbon footprint.

Here are three ideas that I have come up with.

First, require solar panels on all new homes. Last weekend I visited my parents in San Luis Obispo. Sitting outside in the backyard with their neighbor, I spied their solar panels. He informed me that they have paid all of $35 in electrical bills in the year since they installed the panel. Now solar panels are extremely expensive to install, costing what it would cost to buy a decent new car somewhere between 15 and 20 thousand dollars. However, the belief is that it would pay for itself within ten years. More importantly, it would take a tremendous amount off of the power grid in the city if this were done on a mass basis.

It is probably not realistic yet to require retrofitting of the devices, but when you buy a new house it makes sense. First, what is an extra 15 to 20 thousand on top of $400,000 to $600,000 you would pay for a new house. And second, if you plan to own the home for any length of time, you will make up the money in electrical bills. And there is always the expansion of technology discounts, the more that one buys of this technology, the cheaper it gets.

Unfortunately, the council in April got caught up in the debate on a new project as to whether or not to require such things and many on the council majority argued against it. That makes no sense, this is such an energy saver–utilizing the sun, especially in a place like Davis where perhaps 90% of the days are sunny.

Second, expand the greenbelts and bike routes to accommodate Gem cars as well. Our current infrastructure is not set up to accommodate energy saving electric cars rather than fossil fuel burning conventional cars. If we are serious about conserving, there is no reason that in-town trips should be done with conventional cars–none. But as a friend pointed out, here the city is supposed to be environmentally conscious, councilmembers even drive gem cars, but will not be able to get to the new Target store in them. How much sense does that make? Imagine being able to drive in your gem car downtown without having to use many of the major roads? Expensive, but how much gas consumption would we be able to reduce just by reducing greatly the number of in-town trips.

Third, the Whole Earth Festival taught me a very valuable lesson. Every day, we buy a huge amount of packaging including disposable food containers. At Whole Earth, plates and cups were charged a deposit that was returned to the customer up the return of their plates and cups. The plates and cups were then recycled or composted. That leads to the question–why not do that in town? Why not do that at Farmer’s Market? Why not greatly reduce the amount of packaging and disposable food containers that we use and instead either return for re-use, recycle, or compost? It would cost us nothing but an initiative to implement that practice city-wide and it would greatly, greatly reduce waste.

If we are serious about global warming and protecting the environment, then we need to get serious about finding new ways to conserve. Innovation and other saving policies need to increase. So far the council majority has talked the talk when it is convenient, let us see them walk the walk and actually propose policies that impact us all.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Environment

164 comments

  1. Yes… Considering alternatives to the prevailing political mind-set and seriously doing the big picture economic analysis are key to prudent plans for our future. The Davis Connection mailer we received recently outlined the Public Work’s narrative of their Surface Water Project vision. Their story was most telling in the narrowness of its vision and what it DIDN’T INCLUDE to fully inform Davis citizens.

  2. Yes… Considering alternatives to the prevailing political mind-set and seriously doing the big picture economic analysis are key to prudent plans for our future. The Davis Connection mailer we received recently outlined the Public Work’s narrative of their Surface Water Project vision. Their story was most telling in the narrowness of its vision and what it DIDN’T INCLUDE to fully inform Davis citizens.

  3. Yes… Considering alternatives to the prevailing political mind-set and seriously doing the big picture economic analysis are key to prudent plans for our future. The Davis Connection mailer we received recently outlined the Public Work’s narrative of their Surface Water Project vision. Their story was most telling in the narrowness of its vision and what it DIDN’T INCLUDE to fully inform Davis citizens.

  4. Yes… Considering alternatives to the prevailing political mind-set and seriously doing the big picture economic analysis are key to prudent plans for our future. The Davis Connection mailer we received recently outlined the Public Work’s narrative of their Surface Water Project vision. Their story was most telling in the narrowness of its vision and what it DIDN’T INCLUDE to fully inform Davis citizens.

  5. Just a rant- Most important thing we can do is to get “environmentalists” to start thinking globally… When environmental regulations force a U.S. manufacturer or power plant that was 95% clean to close because they couldn’t make it to 99% the pollution (and jobs) just gets exported to China or Mexico where they are 5% clean. Yes, you cleaned up your backyard, but you just contributed to ruining our planet. We need to try to encourage industry to stay and be as good as practical, rather than let the work, and the pollution slip across a border.

  6. Just a rant- Most important thing we can do is to get “environmentalists” to start thinking globally… When environmental regulations force a U.S. manufacturer or power plant that was 95% clean to close because they couldn’t make it to 99% the pollution (and jobs) just gets exported to China or Mexico where they are 5% clean. Yes, you cleaned up your backyard, but you just contributed to ruining our planet. We need to try to encourage industry to stay and be as good as practical, rather than let the work, and the pollution slip across a border.

  7. Just a rant- Most important thing we can do is to get “environmentalists” to start thinking globally… When environmental regulations force a U.S. manufacturer or power plant that was 95% clean to close because they couldn’t make it to 99% the pollution (and jobs) just gets exported to China or Mexico where they are 5% clean. Yes, you cleaned up your backyard, but you just contributed to ruining our planet. We need to try to encourage industry to stay and be as good as practical, rather than let the work, and the pollution slip across a border.

  8. Just a rant- Most important thing we can do is to get “environmentalists” to start thinking globally… When environmental regulations force a U.S. manufacturer or power plant that was 95% clean to close because they couldn’t make it to 99% the pollution (and jobs) just gets exported to China or Mexico where they are 5% clean. Yes, you cleaned up your backyard, but you just contributed to ruining our planet. We need to try to encourage industry to stay and be as good as practical, rather than let the work, and the pollution slip across a border.

  9. In general agreement here.

    I think a 1.0 KW system should be mandatory (around $10k) and a 2.5KW system required to be optional. Of course, that also means requiring new dwellings to have the correct roof orientation to do it. Not sure if multi-family units should be required since they may not have the roof dimensions to accommodate so many panels. It’s complicated but I agree in principle. The counterargument is that we’re making already very expensive homes even more expensive. Many people have to stretch way beyond their means to afford an entry-level house here, myself included. While PV systems do pay for themselves, mortgage lenders don’t consider it, so it could push people outside what they will qualify for a loan.

    In agreement regarding the GEM cars, better known as Low Speed Vehicles or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (LSV/NEV), what is needed is a citywide NEV transportation plan, similar to what Lincoln has completed and Rocklin is working on. I don’t, however, think the greenbelt needs to altered in any way to accommodate the GEM cars, though I wouldn’t necessarily oppose it, if done well.

  10. In general agreement here.

    I think a 1.0 KW system should be mandatory (around $10k) and a 2.5KW system required to be optional. Of course, that also means requiring new dwellings to have the correct roof orientation to do it. Not sure if multi-family units should be required since they may not have the roof dimensions to accommodate so many panels. It’s complicated but I agree in principle. The counterargument is that we’re making already very expensive homes even more expensive. Many people have to stretch way beyond their means to afford an entry-level house here, myself included. While PV systems do pay for themselves, mortgage lenders don’t consider it, so it could push people outside what they will qualify for a loan.

    In agreement regarding the GEM cars, better known as Low Speed Vehicles or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (LSV/NEV), what is needed is a citywide NEV transportation plan, similar to what Lincoln has completed and Rocklin is working on. I don’t, however, think the greenbelt needs to altered in any way to accommodate the GEM cars, though I wouldn’t necessarily oppose it, if done well.

  11. In general agreement here.

    I think a 1.0 KW system should be mandatory (around $10k) and a 2.5KW system required to be optional. Of course, that also means requiring new dwellings to have the correct roof orientation to do it. Not sure if multi-family units should be required since they may not have the roof dimensions to accommodate so many panels. It’s complicated but I agree in principle. The counterargument is that we’re making already very expensive homes even more expensive. Many people have to stretch way beyond their means to afford an entry-level house here, myself included. While PV systems do pay for themselves, mortgage lenders don’t consider it, so it could push people outside what they will qualify for a loan.

    In agreement regarding the GEM cars, better known as Low Speed Vehicles or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (LSV/NEV), what is needed is a citywide NEV transportation plan, similar to what Lincoln has completed and Rocklin is working on. I don’t, however, think the greenbelt needs to altered in any way to accommodate the GEM cars, though I wouldn’t necessarily oppose it, if done well.

  12. In general agreement here.

    I think a 1.0 KW system should be mandatory (around $10k) and a 2.5KW system required to be optional. Of course, that also means requiring new dwellings to have the correct roof orientation to do it. Not sure if multi-family units should be required since they may not have the roof dimensions to accommodate so many panels. It’s complicated but I agree in principle. The counterargument is that we’re making already very expensive homes even more expensive. Many people have to stretch way beyond their means to afford an entry-level house here, myself included. While PV systems do pay for themselves, mortgage lenders don’t consider it, so it could push people outside what they will qualify for a loan.

    In agreement regarding the GEM cars, better known as Low Speed Vehicles or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (LSV/NEV), what is needed is a citywide NEV transportation plan, similar to what Lincoln has completed and Rocklin is working on. I don’t, however, think the greenbelt needs to altered in any way to accommodate the GEM cars, though I wouldn’t necessarily oppose it, if done well.

  13. i agree with the sentiment, but i’ve gotta say that putting gem cars on bike paths is a terrible idea. we’ve already gopt a very nice road system in this town, with minimal amounts of traffic, and speed limits that fit nicely with the top speeds of gem cars. putting them on bike lanes makes no sense to me. it’s enough of a pain dodging those golf-cart things on campus.

    the solar panel thing is a great idea, though. additionally, perhaps we can just replace the non-workign solar panels in community park with real solar panels, or start putting little solar panel shades over parking lots in town (as rifkin once suggested).

    working with restaurants in town to try and set up an intensive food scrap composting system, as they have in middlebury VT, would be another possible idea.

    finally, this belgian trash system that reduced waste by charging people by the weight of the trash in their trash can each week woiuld be an interesting way to approximate the whole earth day trash system. i heard that in germany they just passed a law requiring stores to take back all the packaginjg of the thuings they sold, and that this dramatically reduced waste, becaused retail pressured the manufacturers, but that’d work better on a statewide level, it would just kill retail if the neighboring city didn’t do it.

  14. i agree with the sentiment, but i’ve gotta say that putting gem cars on bike paths is a terrible idea. we’ve already gopt a very nice road system in this town, with minimal amounts of traffic, and speed limits that fit nicely with the top speeds of gem cars. putting them on bike lanes makes no sense to me. it’s enough of a pain dodging those golf-cart things on campus.

    the solar panel thing is a great idea, though. additionally, perhaps we can just replace the non-workign solar panels in community park with real solar panels, or start putting little solar panel shades over parking lots in town (as rifkin once suggested).

    working with restaurants in town to try and set up an intensive food scrap composting system, as they have in middlebury VT, would be another possible idea.

    finally, this belgian trash system that reduced waste by charging people by the weight of the trash in their trash can each week woiuld be an interesting way to approximate the whole earth day trash system. i heard that in germany they just passed a law requiring stores to take back all the packaginjg of the thuings they sold, and that this dramatically reduced waste, becaused retail pressured the manufacturers, but that’d work better on a statewide level, it would just kill retail if the neighboring city didn’t do it.

  15. i agree with the sentiment, but i’ve gotta say that putting gem cars on bike paths is a terrible idea. we’ve already gopt a very nice road system in this town, with minimal amounts of traffic, and speed limits that fit nicely with the top speeds of gem cars. putting them on bike lanes makes no sense to me. it’s enough of a pain dodging those golf-cart things on campus.

    the solar panel thing is a great idea, though. additionally, perhaps we can just replace the non-workign solar panels in community park with real solar panels, or start putting little solar panel shades over parking lots in town (as rifkin once suggested).

    working with restaurants in town to try and set up an intensive food scrap composting system, as they have in middlebury VT, would be another possible idea.

    finally, this belgian trash system that reduced waste by charging people by the weight of the trash in their trash can each week woiuld be an interesting way to approximate the whole earth day trash system. i heard that in germany they just passed a law requiring stores to take back all the packaginjg of the thuings they sold, and that this dramatically reduced waste, becaused retail pressured the manufacturers, but that’d work better on a statewide level, it would just kill retail if the neighboring city didn’t do it.

  16. i agree with the sentiment, but i’ve gotta say that putting gem cars on bike paths is a terrible idea. we’ve already gopt a very nice road system in this town, with minimal amounts of traffic, and speed limits that fit nicely with the top speeds of gem cars. putting them on bike lanes makes no sense to me. it’s enough of a pain dodging those golf-cart things on campus.

    the solar panel thing is a great idea, though. additionally, perhaps we can just replace the non-workign solar panels in community park with real solar panels, or start putting little solar panel shades over parking lots in town (as rifkin once suggested).

    working with restaurants in town to try and set up an intensive food scrap composting system, as they have in middlebury VT, would be another possible idea.

    finally, this belgian trash system that reduced waste by charging people by the weight of the trash in their trash can each week woiuld be an interesting way to approximate the whole earth day trash system. i heard that in germany they just passed a law requiring stores to take back all the packaginjg of the thuings they sold, and that this dramatically reduced waste, becaused retail pressured the manufacturers, but that’d work better on a statewide level, it would just kill retail if the neighboring city didn’t do it.