02 Jun Energy Policy: The Perfect Storm
The Culver City Democratic Club’s May meeting featured a panel discussion on one of the most pressing issues of our time: energy policy. In the context of the B.P. oil spill, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, increasing record-breaking weather, and ongoing wars in oil-producing countries: we are experiencing a “perfect storm” of energy-related events.
Around 40 attendees listened and asked questions of the speakers from local, national and international environmental groups. We introduced the topic by showing the short film “300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds” narrated by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute. The film shows that in the span of just a few human lifetimes, we have become completely dependent on fossil fuels with disastrous effects on human health. It asks the question, “Where do we go from here?”
Exploring the energy policy problem from different angles, the panelists provided various answers to this question.
After pointing out the technological challenges of meeting today’s energy demands without adding carbon to the atmosphere, Director of Environmental Studies at Loyola Marymount University Brian Treanor said that political action is the key to combating climate change.
Dr. Jimmy Hara, Vice-President of Physicians for Social Responsibility recounted his family’s experience as victims of the atomic bomb. A physician, he has extensively studied the science behind both long and short-term nuclear radiation. He underlined the dangers of nuclear arms and energy, letting audience members decide for themselves whether or not California’s nuclear reactors on active fault lines are worth the risk.
Michelle Weiner is the director of Transition Culver City which seeks community-based solutions to the problems of climate change, peak oil and economic instability. The Transition movement began in England and has spread worldwide, teaching communities to become less oil-dependent and better equipped to meet their own needs. Michelle led a lively group exercise asking audience members to explore what they would miss and what they look forward to in a world with less oil.
Evan Gillespie, Regional Representative of the Sierra Club and leading organizer of the L.A. Beyond Coal campaign spoke of the challenges and the considerable successes of the movement to drive energy policy away from heavily C02-producing coal toward cleaner sources. Its goal: to stop the current 39% of coal-generated energy in Los Angeles by 2020 and to stimulate green jobs while pursuing large-scale renewable energy projects.
Many thanks to the excellent panelists and also to the audience who asked great questions and shared their knowledge on the issue.