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September 24, 2015

Guest Blog: Glendale Golf Course Food Forest (Bingham Food Forest) by U of U Professional Writing

This November, Salt Lake citizens will vote on the General Operations bond which will allow the Salt Lake City government to update and repurpose open lands such as parks, golf courses, and trails, in a way the city finds best. “The city golf program is at a point where it is no longer fiscally viable. Unfortunately, getting back to a solid, viable financial base at this point is just flatly going to require some course closures,” as stated by Art Raymond, a spokesman for mayor Ralph Becker. In its place, the mayor has created a “Connecting You to Nature” proposal which will offer new ways to use the allocated space. The opportunities include new paved and unpaved trails for bicyclists and walkers/hikers, new recreational opportunities, and an urban farm/orchard (or in other words, an urban forest).

The idea originated from the Beacon Urban Forest in Seattle, WA. The forest’s mission is to create awareness of the climate impact of food production, revitalize the local ecosystem, improve public health, and educate the community. Salt Lake’s future food forest anticipates a similar impact. The Bingham Food Forest will feature produce that consists of: groundcover, medicinal herbs, vegetables, berries, shrubs, fruit and nut trees, and vines directly viable and free of cost to the public. 

The design will be based on an agroforestry system (a system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems) based on woodland ecosystems which will be low maintenance and sustainable. The idea is to plant species of plants that grow well together in close proximity to each other; for example, growing legumes which have nitrogen fixing bacteria in their roots along with other plants, which helps provide a nitrogen rich soil to surrounding plants allowing for more viable growth. In other words, the urban forest won’t look like an orchard, but rather a natural ecosystem filled with agricultural vegetation.

A successful food forest would help diminish some adverse effects caused by large scale agriculture entities. Based on a ground water study published in the Hydrology Journal in 2002, direct effects of agriculture include dissolution and transport of excess fertilizers and similar materials into irrigation and drainage areas. These materials often reach sources of ground water and either directly or indirectly affect concentration of inorganic chemicals in the water, including nitrates, sulfates, strontium, and radium. In addition to contaminated ground water, many large scale agricultural corporations have implemented the use of genetically modified crops which in turn creates a more resilient and uniform product. These more resilient plants are able to withstand Roundup and other harsh pesticides, which effectively remove weeds, insects, and rodents. As nature becomes resistant to these chemicals, it creates a vicious cycle of artificially engineering food to survive new pesticides. As stated before, the food forest will implement the use of agricultural diversity which will help maintain nutritionally rich soil and the use of natural non-GMO seeds will increase the crop’s nutritional value. The absence of fertilizers and pesticides will also help maintain a clean ground water source for the community. If the forest develops exponentially, it may provide food for a large amount of local residents reducing the need for imported food in the area; in turn reducing transportation pollution.

An urban forest’s purpose isn’t only to serve as a means of city agriculture, it opens up opportunities for recreation, wild-life, and a sense of community. The Bingham Food Forest will be carved with walkways for people to enjoy a sunny afternoon along the Jordan River, and also will feature an observation tower to take in the sights. The food forest will also be used as a meeting place for the Farmers Market every Saturday, allowing people to come and buy fresh, home-grown goods. The forest will also offer afternoon wildlife lectures at the observation tower, and use it as a venue for outdoor concerts.

Another alternative for the 160 acres that currently make up the Glendale Golf Course would be to restore it to the natural riverfront area it was before, which would provide a sanctuary for native birds, plants, and other wildlife. Plans have already been put together by Ray Wheeler, who is highly involved in the Jordan River restoration, that would help the city take advantage of the rare 
opportunity to use a large portion of land in natural restoration. One of Wheeler’s arguments is cost. If half of Glendale Golf Course was converted into soccer fields and playgrounds (which is a proposed idea), it would cost somewhere near $48 million. In order to change the golf course back to its natural state, the total Ray Wheeler has purposed would be $7.3 million dollars. This is broken down into $2 million to purchase the land, and an estimated $5.3 million for the restoration of natural vegetation. 

While there are a number of communal and environmental benefits from converting the golf course to a food forest, there are many that would like to keep the course open for recreation and financial purposes. There are indeed a number of courses in the Salt Lake area that are losing money but currently the Glendale course is not one of them. The Glendale course is in fact projected to run a $50,000 profit this year in light of a warmer, shorter winter. This change in profits have given rise to questions whether closing Glendale makes sense given other courses are losing much more money. The main deficit is coming from the Rose Park course, projected to lose $281,000 in 2015; accounting for over 100% of the city’s golf fund deficit going into 2016. The other main financial issue is how to pay for the repurposing of the Glendale course. Currently repurposing the course is estimated to cost $50 million, which, as of now, would be paid for via a bond measure funded by the taxpayers.

The city's system faces a national trend characterized by an overall decline in rounds of golf played each year. Salt Lake's the Golf Enterprise Fund is expected to lose $500,000 this season, putting it $1 million in the red after a similar performance last year. Also, the fund's annual revenues are about $8 million, but they have $23 million in deferred maintenance across the system over the past decade. Although reducing golf courses may create heartache for some, creating forests enriches life, biodiversity and fertility. Where life gathers, complex and mutually beneficial relationships are created between organisms; natural harmonious communities form, and life forms multiply and proliferate.

Other urban food forests such as Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest, and Los Angeles’ Food Forest are ran by a collective community effort. The Bingham Food Forest plans to model itself like Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest and be managed by large communal work parties. If Glendale Golf Course is turned into a food forest, this could also be a good blueprint to follow. This stewardship creates low costs to maintain the food forest, and creates a bond among the community. A lasting bond in a community is something that we can all agree on, and is something that should always be in the forefront of our minds.

You may not think that a food forest is the best option, or you might have another idea of what should be put in place of the Glendale Golf Course. Our state and city cares about the opinions of its residents. If you would like to voice your opinion the city has set this link up, where you can voice your opinion here. For our land to thrive we need to be responsible stewards, to do this our voice needs to be heard.

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

1) http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/to-giveth-and-taketh/Content?oid=2854257
2) http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/glendale-golf-course-closing/11583/-zFc-1eI40WbRDa-mgJwng
3) http://www.krcl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Bingham-Food-Forest-3.pdf
4) http://ouroutdoorsslc.com/
5) http://www.krcl.org/just-one-question-whats-a-food-forest/
6) http://www.beaconfoodforest.org/
7) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10040-001-0183-3
8) http://www.earthrestoration.net/files/328801_328900/328810/2015-05-29-natureinthecityproposalsummary-reducedsize.pdf

July 24, 2015

Guest Blog: Mountain Accord by U of U Professional Writing

The Wasatch Mountains have long been a natural sanctuary and retreat for Utah’s residents; offering clean spring water, pure mountain air, diverse recreation opportunities, and seemingly boundless wilderness areas called home by moose, mountain lions, mountain goats, deer, as well as numerous other species.

Mountain Accord was created by a collaboration of government, business, private, and special interest groups in hopes of solving the rising current and foreseen future problems of the Wasatch Mountains in regard to transportation, recreation, economics, and environmental issues. The Mountain Accord proposal is an ongoing liquid process intended to evolve based on public opinion. The committee holds public forums where local residents are encouraged to get involved, ask questions, and discuss alternate solutions.

A large driving force behind the Mountain Accord is Utah’s Ski Industry and its immense impact on Utah’s economy. The Mountain Accord intends to impact Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons as well as Parley’s Canyon and the corresponding resorts: Canyons, Park City, Brighton, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird. The proposal tackles the ever growing problem of transportation to and from these recreation areas. Due to the narrow single lane roads ascending Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, traffic (especially in the winter time) becomes exceedingly congested, forcing motorists to wait hours before they are able to get to the ski areas. For example, on a powder day, traffic to Snowbird and Alta (located in Little Cottonwood) can be backed up as far as the I-215 exit ramp on 6200 S; which is approximately a 12 mile distance. The proposal also discusses creating connections between the resorts for easier access, so skiers and snowboarders can visit more than one resort in a single day more effectively. The proposed project suggests building a tunnel through the mountain to connect Brighton and Alta resorts, rerouting a ski lift to connect Big Cottonwood Canyon and Canyons / Park City resorts, as well as creating a train and/or more extensive bus system to shuttle visitors up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

While the Mountain Accord could vastly improve transportation across the Wasatch Mountains, it is not without its concerns. Many recreational users of the two Cottonwood Canyons worry that the expansion of roads or installation of a rail line could destroy the natural beauty of the canyons given the narrow nature of Little Cottonwood Canyon in particular. These changes could also result in an
influx of visitors, potentially exceeding the carrying capacity of the canyons and putting excessive pressure on the canyons’ resources. Expansion of these roads could also eliminate hiking trail heads or rock climbing locations in the canyon. This is all compounded by the fact that the proposed costs for these expansions could reach 3 billion dollars and there is as of yet no plan of how to pay for it.
Alongside all of this development, Mountain Accord does have plans for conservation efforts. They are currently working to identify available private lands in the Cottonwood Canyons and purchase them to place these lands under public protection. This will place strict boundaries on the ski resorts, preventing them from expanding to undeveloped lands on the slopes. These restrictions will be made in exchange for the resorts expanding their holdings at the base of the mountain. There are additional efforts to improve and promote public transportation up the two Cottonwood Canyons, reducing overall traffic. This reduction in traffic would reduce pollution in the area, improving local air quality and maintaining the quality of the Wasatch watershed. This all comes with a unanimous vote on July 13 to move forward with the plan which includes upcoming studies that will examine all ideas of connecting the various ski resorts, including leaving them unconnected.

While the Mountain Accord has established a blueprint to accomplish their goals, it is not set in stone. “There is this misconception that the blueprint is making a decision and it’s not,” project manager, Laynee Jones stated in an interview with Desert News. The plan is always susceptible to change from public opinion and there is a fear that the plan is open to manipulation down the road from those looking to modify it for personal gain. This fluidity means the community must remain vigilant in monitoring the program as it develops. If you feel strongly about the issues raised here, contact the Mountain Accord organization at mountainaccord.com and let your voice be heard in shaping the future of the Wasatch Front.

Written by: Valerie Yukhimova and James Thomas

1) http://ski.curbed.com/archives/2015/02/mountain-accord-unveils-ambitious-blueprint-for-utah-ski-country.php
2) http://www.law.utah.edu/the-mountain-accord-a-model-of-environmental-conflict-resolution-for-the-wasatch-mountains/
3) http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865624262/Residents-raise-concerns-about-Mountain-Accord-plan.html?pg=all
4) http://mountainaccord.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Final-Accord-July-13-2015.pdf
5) http://mountainaccord.com/

July 17, 2015

Guest Blog: Jordan River Rehabilitation by U of U Professional Writing

The Jordan River runs fifty miles from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake. It runs through the heart of Salt Lake, and northern Utah County. Those two counties combined total more than 1.5 million people, all of which are very close to the Jordan River. Many different species of animals such as reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians, mammals, and other organisms (including humans) in the animal kingdom call the Jordan River home. The river serves many purposes in our society and culture, but over the decades the river has also been abused and mistreated. This mistreatment has not gone un-noticed. People are banding together to clean up our river and make sure it becomes one of the jewels of northern Utah.   
Like most urban rivers on earth, the Jordan River has been heavily polluted. Throughout much of its length it is identified as a diminished waterway due to known concentrations of fecal coliform and other key indicators of pollution. Along with the untreated sewage, farm waste run off and hazardous chemical deposits from past mining operations have leaked into the river resulting in elevated levels of toxins such as arsenic, sulfates, and various heavy metals. The effects of these toxins have not remained isolated to water quality, but have also become detrimental to avian, amphibian, reptilian, and mammalian ecosystems. When looking at the Jordan River today, it is murky and obviously thick with sedimentation and algae growth. Fortunately, there have been a variety of efforts in the past few years to rectify this.

 New laws and regulations have been implemented in an attempt to clean up the waterway and consequently the surrounding ecosystem. Organizations such as The Department for Environmental Quality as well as The Utah Division of Water Quality have been monitoring water quality and enforcing regulations to better maintain it. For example, much of the Wasatch Mountain range is considered a watershed whose waters are protected under category 1 and 2 water restrictions. This means the waters are of “exceptional recreational or ecological significance” and will be kept to a high standard of purity. To achieve this canine and motorized recreational vehicle contamination are restricted, resulting in a more pure water supply. However, other water sources have not been as fortunate. Past toxic waste contamination from Kennecott Copper Mine has made its way into the Jordan River drainage area, releasing high levels of toxins into the surrounding areas. Since then a Reverse Osmosis water treatment facility was built, provoked by past failed attempts at purifying the water by use of conventional methods.

There are currently a variety of projects working to restore the Jordan River Parkway’s natural beauty. The 900 S Oxbow Restoration and Enhancement Project aims to build multiple
ecotones, a transitional area between two ecosystems, at the intersection of the Jordan River Parkway and the 9line regional trail. These ecotones will provide a higher quality and more diverse habitat for the various wildlife living along the Jordan River. The Big Ben Habitat Restoration Project is currently restoring 70 acres of wildlife habitat for migratory birds by reconnecting the floodplain area with the Jordan River. Upon completion, the restoration of the floodplain will reduce the amount of erosion by the river and provide a retention basin, reducing the risk of flood in the area.
All of this work will be insignificant if we do not learn from our past mistakes which jeopardized the river in the first place. Fortunately, there is a multitude of resources to help educate our younger generations about the importance of the Jordan River ecosystem. The Center for Documentary Expression and Art’s Exhibits that Teach Reawakened Beauty curriculum offers schools an 8 week residency program for grades 7 through 12. During the 8 weeks an artist, ecologist, and scholar help educate students about the Jordan River through hands-on work at the river. Additionally, the Center for the Living City, YouthCity, and the Utah Lake Commission all offer a variety of curriculums and lesson plans about our local water sources which teachers can easily use in their own classrooms. Information regarding the scientific aspects of the river is also available. Utah Water Watch offers a program which stresses the importance of water quality and promotes stewardship of Utah’s aquatic resources. Citizen Science with the Tracy Aviary educate the public about Utah birds, their habitats, and their importance in relation to Jordan River ecosystems.

In addition to this community education, efforts are being made to get the local Jordan River community involved with their environment. The Jordan River Commission facilitate river cleanup and weed pulling volunteer events for the community each year. Since 2012 there has been nearly 10,000 hours of trail-side volunteer time logged, in which volunteers have removed over 34,500 pounds of trash. Volunteers are not only cleaning the river water but are planting native trees, shrubs, and grasses along the Jordan River bank. This practice helps reinforce the integrity of the river banks as well as native plant populations. There has been over 900 new native trees, shrubs, and grasses planted to date. If you would like to join these efforts in cleaning up the Jordan River area contact the Jordan River Commission. They offer volunteer programs from April 1st through October 30th each year. They will provide you with tools, gloves, water, trash bags and snacks.

There have been great efforts made to restore the Jordan River to its original beauty but without the continued effort of the Jordan River community, that beauty may once again be lost. If you would like to learn more about the Jordan River or would like to start helping yourself, contact any of the organizations below.

Written by: David Petersen, James Thomas, Saena Fukui, Kurtis Prewett, and Valeriya Yukhimova 


1)Bureau, U.S. Census. State & County Quickfacts. 28 05 2015. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/49/49035.html.

2) O'Donoghue, Joi. "Jordan River cleanup monumental, but not impossible." Deseret News 10 August 2011.

3) http://jordanrivercommission.com/restoration-projects-and-open-space-along-the-jordan-river/

4) http://jordanrivercommission.com/teacher-resources/

5) http://jordanrivercommission.com/be-a-citizen-scientist/

6) http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r317/r317-002.htm

Contact information:

Utah Water Watch. Brian Green (435) 797-2580 brain.green@usu.edu

Citizen Science with the Tracy Aviary. Carolina Roa (801) 596-8500 carolinar@tracyaviary.org

Jordan River Comission. Holly Newell (317) 694-7945 http://jordanrivercommission.com/contact/

June 27, 2015

The Solar World: Will Poverty or Power Embrace Progress?

As of 2014, the leading countries in terms of electricity production by solar cells was as follows [1]:

1) Germany 35.5 gigawatts
2) China 18.3 gigawatts
3) Italy 17.6 gigawatts
4) Japan 13.6
5) USA 12
6) Spain 5.6
7) France 4.6
8) Australia 3.3
9) Belgium 3
10) The United Kingdom 2.9
12) India 2.3

But don’t get comfortable with the status quo, because the order on this list is bound to get shaken up by countries like China who increased its solar power production by 60 times in the last 4 years, rising from 8th to 2nd in that same timeframe!  India is also a rising star and countries like Brazil, South Africa, and Nigeria might also become contenders depending on how they carry themselves over the coming years.  Other countries that are on the list now, like Spain, , the USA, Germany, and France might find themselves sinking in ranking as other countries make stronger commitments to renewable energies and as internal political wars against fossil fuel and nuclear electricity producers and their allies stifle further progress.


As amazing as it might sound, “wind and solar accounted for all new (electricity) generating capacity placed in-service in April,” according to the April 2015 Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, in the United States. [2]

And what’s more, this is beginning to be the trend.  Slowly-but-surely, a greater and greater proportion of energy production is coming from renewable sources.  This is true for both the USA and the world at large.

In fact, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower account for 84.1 percent of the 1,900 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service since the beginning of 2015.  “This includes 1,170 MW of wind (61.5 percent), 362 MW of solar (19.1 percent), 45 MW of geothermal steam  (2.4 percent), and 21 MW of hydropower (1.1 percent). The rest (302 MW) was provided by five units of natural gas.” [2]

The total contribution to electric generation by geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind for 2014 was 1,611 MW, plus 116 MW from biomass.  For the same period in 2014, natural gas added 1,518 MW of new capacity.  Oil added just 1 MW and coal and nuclear provided no new capacity.  Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity added in 2014. [2]

“Renewable energy sources now account for 17.05 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water - 8.55 percent, wind - 5.74 percent, biomass - 1.38 percent, solar - 1.05 percent, and geothermal steam - 0.33 percent (for comparison, renewables were 13.71 percent of capacity in December 2010).” [2]

Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.14 percent) and oil (3.92 percent) combined. In fact, the installed capacity of wind power alone has now surpassed that of oil.  Just recently solar power exceeded the 1% mark, meaning it now accounts for over 1% of total USA energy production. [2]

Note however that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Although renewable energy sources in the United States could generate a maximum of 17.05% of all electricity, the actual amount of total electricity generated is about 13.4%. [2] Some reasons for the difference are that solar can’t produce as much electricity on a cloudy day nor at night and for wind power there is no place on Earth where it is always windy and blowing at the same velocity.  Differences in environmental conditions can lead to less output than optimal for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.


The International Energy Agency has predicted that sub-Saharan Africa would require $300+ billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030.

In October 2013, President Obama launched the Power Africa Initiative, designed to bring power to the approximately 70% of 800 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa who have no access to electricity.  As part of the initiative the United States government committed $7 billion with nearly three times as much invested by private industry to improve both infrastructure and capacity for electrical generation. [3]

“This initiative is an important step towards dealing with climate change not to mention foreign relations and international development. The initiative gives the U.S. a leadership role in addressing a range of critical regional and global issues – eradicating poverty, improving health and gender equality, opening up economic opportunity and conserving ecosystems and natural resources as well as promoting clean, renewable energy.” [3]

“After just one year, committed Power Africa projects were predicted to provide enough electricity to power more than 5 million African homes, businesses, schools, and clinics — one-quarter of the program's goal. Momentum continues to rise.  Last August President Obama tripled the Power Africa goal to installing an aggregate 30,000 MW of new sustainable generation capacity and expanding access to electricity to at least 60 million households and businesses across all 28 sub-Saharan African nations. In addition, he pledged the U.S. would raise monetary support for Power Africa to $300 million per year.” [3]

The initiative headed by the Obama Administration “is implementing a new model of development in emerging-market countries, one focused on private-sector participation and capacity building.  Too often, low-income countries have been made subservient to more well to do nations through charity.  In the past, the aims and efforts of better-off nations to help disadvantaged nations largely ignored the issue of economic investment to make them self-sufficient.  Rather than helping these disadvantaged nations to grow economically and politically towards self-sufficiency, they only received enough aid to survive, but not to develop.  There was donated aid, but no real investment that could lead to real improvements in circumstance.  Recent efforts such as the Power Africa Initiative reflect a wiser and more informed approach towards helping low-income nations develop, mainly by sharing resources, investing, and filling in gaps in different capacities such as legal, financial, technological, infrastructural, and operational so as to significantly improve overall likelihood of success. [3]

On the private sector side, groups like the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) offer $100,000 grants to African-owned and operated businesses as well as Pay-as-you-go loans to provide batteries, set up solar panels, microgrid access and smart metering. [3]


Electricity consumption in India has been increasing at one of the fastest rates in the world due to population growth and economic development.  With a population near 1.3 billion (yes, that is 4X the size of the USA’s population) that is growing with no sign of plateauing, as can be imagined, India has some major energy needs and concerns.  And while getting electricity to all of these people to improve their quality of life is a goal still not realized, the reliability of electricity provided to those who have it is also sketchy in many areas. 

In fact, “on July 30th and 31st, 2012 the world's largest blackout, The Great Indian Outage, stretching from New Delhi to Kolkata occurred. This blackout, due to failure of the northern power grid, caused nearly 700 million people — twice the population of the United States (or about 10% of the world’s human population) — to be without electricity.” [4]

And besides holding the undesirable record for largest power outage ever recorded, India also has “energy shortages (as much as 15% daily) almost everywhere in the country.” [4]  This is not just bad for the people of India, many of whom live in the dark wilderness of poverty; it is also bad for the economy and India’s prospects of continuing to grow its middle class. 

The area affected by the Great Indian Outage is colored in red in the above image.

India has pledged to grow the amount of electricity produced by solar from the current 2.3 to 20 gigawatts by 2020 (In 2014 India generated about 200 gigawatts of electricity in total).  This would not only be good for the economy and the people, but it would also be good for the environment by reducing pollution, the release of greenhouse gases and demand for fossil fuels in general.  It could reduce pollution by reducing the need for fossil fuel electricity generating plants, but also by increasing the efficacy and economy of electric hybrid cars which outperform gas cars in urban areas.  Also, for a country like India where many people live in rural poor areas as well as urban poor areas, solar offers a decentralized source of electricity that “empowers people at the grassroots level.” [4]  Currently, India has over 289 million people living in poor, remote areas without any electricity who could be producing their own, in their own locales, if only the solar panels were more forthcoming.  India’s government is doing its best to make this happen, both internally and by enlisting international support. [4]

In fact, if India could just harness 10% of the incoming radiation coming from the sun, it could power all of the country’s energy needs.  A similar story can be told for practically any country that isn't living under a cloud or in perpetual night (which is practically every country).


What’s most frustrating about solar power implementation for me is that it has such a slow trajectory which should not be the case considering that solar power is no longer hindered by technological nor economic barriers (solar panels have become ever more efficient, affordable and reliable), rather it is hindered by politics.  The USA, in particular, has no excuse for not working towards a renewable future.  We have the wealth, we just don’t have the will to overcome the standoff with the old guard fossil fuel industry and their corporate cronies.  For sure, as the article started out, renewable energy is starting to take to the market, but solar remains as less than 0.5% of total USA energy production.  

0.5% is a joke for modern times.  Even in Germany, which is the leader for now in solar electricity production, can only claim ~7% of its electricity comes from solar (35% comes from renewables).  For many years the USA has raged a war on terrorism which has sacrificed endless lives and wealth to that cause.  How is holding the future hostage at the behest of those who care more about personal gain than the well-being of the masses any less an act of terrorism?  There are issues of poverty, overpopulation, inequity, pollution, dwindling resources and climate change bearing down on us, but we must act in denial because we have a gun to our heads, held by the jeweled hands of those who insist we keep repeating that all these problems are just dreams.  

In other countries like India, where a significant proportion of the population is living in extreme poverty, with little prospect for fulfilling their human potential, renewable energy could be a real saving grace, but again, corruption and lack of political will on the part of the government leads to the continued suffering of people who wait in the dark. 

The truth is that those with the most to lose by the implementation of renewable energy are a few oligarchic monopolists, while the average-majority stand with a lot to gain.  Solar panels are a threat to fossil fuel companies and their relatives because they will decentralize/democratize economic control of energy production.  The sun doesn’t come from a mine or pump in a certain country in a certain location that can only be bought for top dollar from a privileged owner.  The sun shines on every being on this Earth, irrespective of their standing.

So who will be first to overcome this stagnant era of inertia?  The desperate poor who see progress as the only road to a life that amounts to more than mere survival?  Or will it be the wealthy, who have the resources to invest in change, but who as of yet seem content with the status-unsustainable-quo?  At this point it is near impossible to tell.  But why is it that every option seems so extreme?  How can something as simple as a solar panel be the source of so much petty animosity and resistance to the future?  It isn’t like whether we choose to harvest electricity from solar radiation or not will stop the sun from shining.

-Seth Commichaux