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Since 2005 our electric bills from our electric co-op have gone up 60 percent due to higher charges per kilowatt and increases in fees charged on a monthly basis. That is about 10 percent per year when the increase nationally is about 6 percent per year.
In 1999 oil cost $12 per barrel. Today that same barrel is $100, quite a sizable increase. Here’s a question: Do you think that energy prices will continue to increase or instead go back to say 2003 pricing? If you picked the first choice that prices will go up, then you agree with the world’s leading economists and scientists.
For every $10 increase per barrel of oil, the price of gasoline goes up by 25 cents per gallon. All those quarters added up to about $30 billion, most of which is sent overseas to pay for the oil that we import. Oil consumption in this country has doubled since 1972. Currently, as a nation, we use about 100 million barrels of oil per day. Wait, wasn’t 1972 when we had an oil embargo due to political unrest in the Middle East? As a nation we obviously did not learn much from that experience and we still do not have an energy plan, no goals set let alone a plan and directives to achieve those goals.
In the pyramid theory of management, change starts from the top down. So, in the case of national energy policy, it would be the government and business leaders establishing doable goals and a plan to achieve those goals. Sometimes when there is no direction or implementation of improvements from the top, no clear set of goals established, no changing of the status quo, then change starts from the bottom. The bottom is us, the common folks that make up this United States. Some examples of these common folks or “grass roots” movements we have seen in our own lifetime are civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and environmental rights or the recent “Arab Spring,” all of which started from the bottom up. Just common folks realizing that something is wrong, that something needs to change, to improve, and to advance.
Many folks trace the beginning of the modern environmental movement to Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring.” People started to realize that we as a society and as individuals were doing serious harm to our environment and to ourselves. We also realized that it did not have to be that way and that we, both individually and collectively, had the power to bring about change. Our individual actions are what will make a difference in our nation’s consumption of energy. Some people will act due to rising prices, others due to a belief that it is the right thing to do to help protect our environment, our planet.s
Here in Cedar Key we are taking actions to lessen our energy demands. The curbside recycling program is going well, about 80 percent of the households and businesses are currently recycling which is really good participation rate but there is always room for improvement. I wish that I knew where the educational program about recycling failed so that we could have a “do over,” have everyone participating and those that are currently participating increase their efforts. Our city has implemented several improvements that have reduced its energy and water consumption. Locally, we are heading in the right direction. There’s that old saying, “act locally, think globally.” It still holds true.
Did you know that if you had increased the insulation in your attic to R-38 six years ago, the cost of that insulation probably would have been recovered by now and you would continue to save money every month? Conservation is really the short term answer while the “powers to be” improve and scale up new energy production technologies or drill new oil wells. That could take years and years and billions and billions of dollars, especially with a dysfunctional government in Washington, D.C.
But WE can start tomorrow with a tube of caulk, an energy efficient light bulb, turning off the lights when not in use or by improving our recycling efforts. A lesson taught by my grandmother is all too appropriate regarding the shape we are in; “Depend upon yourself. Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.”