Summit puts spotlight on clean energy

Perspective is an interesting thing. If you’re too far away from something, you don’t see the details. If you’re too close, you miss the big picture. In my experience, the best strategy for maintaining a healthy perspective is to keep both in mind. Look at the big picture and use it as a guide as you handle the necessary details.

With regard to green living, the big picture is the health of the planet and its biodiversity, especially as it pertains to the sustainability of our civilization. The details include the daily decisions we all make that are responsible for our collective results.

Take energy for example. Paying the monthly power bill is a detail, but how many of us take the time to think about our energy use in a larger context? Having a healthy perspective on energy is important to everyone. Fortunately we have an excellent opportunity to learn about the big energy picture in a unique and meaningful way.

Nevada will again be in the national energy spotlight on Aug. 10 as high-level industry leaders, scientists, policy experts and public officials gather for a day-long event at the Cox Pavilion. The National Clean Energy Summit 2.0: Jobs and the New Economy will be hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Sen. Harry Reid and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The event will feature some of the brightest, forward-thinking experts in the field of clean energy, including former Vice President Al Gore, energy executive T. Boone Pickens, White House Council on Environmental Quality Special Adviser Van Jones, and United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

This is a rare opportunity to bypass the media spin (did I just say that?) and learn by direct experience. Just listening to the always-passionate and articulate oratory of Jones is alone worth the price of admission. Add to that one of the most successful businessmen in the country (Pickens) along with a couple of Nobel Laureates (Chu and Gore) and you have a group with unparalleled diversity and expertise. This is perspective with a capital P. You can find out all the details and register for the event at cleanenergysummit.org.

There has never been a more crucial time to be informed about our energy options. Many countries, including ours, face tremendous economic challenges. At the same time, we must begin a rapid transition to a post-carbon society. The decisions we make now will determine the quality of life for generations to come. You should be a part of this important process.

The U.S., and especially Nevada, is poised to become a leading source of clean, renewable energy and the technology, jobs and economic benefits that go along with it. When coupled with deep efficiency and an ever-smarter grid system, a bright and affordable clean energy future awaits us. Time is not on our side however.

China and several other countries have recognized the importance of renewable energy and are quickly moving ahead. As just one example, China now has more than 40 million households using rooftop solar arrays to generate hot water. They’ve pioneered the installation of simple, low-cost systems on a massive scale in an effort to reduce pollution, including carbon emissions that are a direct result of burning coal. By the way, they’ve also created hundreds of thousands of green jobs in the process.

The U.S. has a history of rising to the challenge but the clean energy challenge has been unresolved for much too long. Rather than just wait for “them” to do it, homeowners can take action now. We must all educate ourselves about the issues of climate change, the real costs of burning fossil fuels or foolishly building more nuclear plants to produce the most expensive energy in the world. Armed with the facts and a healthy, accurate perspective, we can make myriad daily decisions that will culminate in the realization of a worthy goal.

There are still a few folks who think this is all some sort of green conspiracy. Like the Marlboro Man, proudly smoking his death-delivering cancer stick, they maintain a false macho posture in support of dead-end coal or nuclear energy while deriding others who point out the vast majority of scientific evidence that surrounds them. Clean energy is part of the path to a sustainable society and the 2009 National Clean Energy Summit will help form the policy we need to get there.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. Steve can be reached via e-mail at steve@greendream.biz. More information relating to this column is posted at www.greendream.biz.

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