Sunday, September 27, 2009

Denver Releases Most CO2, Barcelona the Least

I knew the brown cloud was bad, but I didn't think that we were the worst CO2 polluter per capita in the world. From the Science Daily article:

Its (Denver) high levels were due partly to its high use of electricity, heating and industrial fuels, and ground transportation, they note.

If this is the case, then we have a lot of work to do, i.e. a plan for a robust public transit system (RTD light-rail and Fast Tracks are on the right path), re-zoning neighborhoods to allow goods and services (instead of getting in the car and driving to the grocery store or pharmacy, how about walking or biking there?), smart grid technology (already happening in Boulder) and further development of renewable energy sources to gradually replace coal (see NREL).

I remember when we went to Barcelona a couple of years ago, we stayed in an apartment in the middle of the city and we walked or took public transit everywhere. It was that easy and actually pleasant. We walked to the market to get fresh seafood and vegetables to cook in our apartment that evening. We walked to the sites and the beach to grab some sun. We took the subway out to the suburbs to spend the day in some of their beautiful parks. Of course it was a vacation, but the people of Barcelona do this every day and seem to manage. Instead of jumping in their "cages" of isolation to go to work/shopping/sites they walk or take public transportation. The population of Barcelona engages with each other simply by not being in the confines of a car. The city is buzzing with energy and ideas and there is an exchange of these ideas that can only occur when you are walking the streets, looking at your neighbor in the eye and smiling, and telling your story. Good things happen when people interact.

The transition to reduce consumption of fossil fuels will be a bit painful, but I think if Denver wants to be called a "green city" they need to reduce their CO2 emissions first. Completing this involves a new way of thinking that is definitely within our abilities.

No comments:

Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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