Opinion

Set an example with energy use

I have spent the last four years being Cook County Local Energy Project’s (CCLEP) coordinator. CCLEP’s mission is to promote energy efficiency and clean local renewable energy. This journey brought me close to how we as a community use and regard energy. Here are a few observations:

At the end of 2015, it is clear that human activity is creating climate change and there are global economic and political responses to these changes. The Paris agreement shows greater cooperation and participation among nations more than ever before. Energy consumption is in the news. Energy usage needs to change, and for the U.S., it needs to decrease and be generated by cleaner sources.

So what can we do to change energy use at the level we can control, our own consumption? Promoting reducing energy use by guilt goes nowhere in a hurry. We can all rationalize our actions and notice hypocritical energy use in others. So what’s going on and what can we do?

My theory is that we live, operate, and consume in relation to those around us, with those whom we consider our peers and what we perceive as a community standard. It is part of an American standard. We choose where we fit and what models to use without really thinking about it. These models dictate what choices we allow ourselves to make.

So, if we want to make a difference and affect climate change we need to collectively change the community and national standards and create new norms. This can be done in three ways.

First is to vote for those who work for good energy use policy that paves the way for change.

Second is to get involved in creating energy policy at the local, state and federal level.

Third, and the most important, is to examine our own energy use and change the least painful habit first and build from there. Question assumptions that govern purchases and energy use. Don’t worry when we forget and do things the old way or make a choice that isn’t perfect. Quiet acts collectively change social norms. Set an example.

Have an energetic 2016!

Virginia Danfelt
CCLEP Coordinator 2012 –
2015
Hovland


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