Skip to content

Earth Dr Reese Halter's Blog


story ran on the wire in January 2009

The Economy is a wholly owned Subsidiary of the Environment

Despite a world recession and plummeting crude oil prices – for the second time in five years in August of 2008 a chunk of ice-shelf nearly the size of Manhattan has broken away from Ellesmere Island into the Arctic Ocean.

Climate change is a citizens’ issue and each of us must commit to using energy efficiently.

Reducing energy consumption makes sound fiscal sense. And when Wal-Mart, GE, Google, IBM and SC Johnson advertise their commitment to energy saving campaigns on television, we as consumers should follow their cost efficient actions.

When Honeywell, a $37 billion company, has half its portfolio in energy efficiency, we as investors are getting a glimpse at where corporate America envisions the future.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to cut 15 per cent of all energy use by the Federal Government – the world’s largest energy-consumer.

Already 9 states in America require utility companies to meet a percentage growth through efficiency, a commitment that when adopted nationally will avert the need to build 450 more coal-fired power plants by 2020 when the population is forecasted to be 340 million people.

Oilman and investor T. Boone Pickens has committed to turning America’s Midwest into a rich wind-driven region by 2020. He’s secured over $75 billion for this project.

BrightSource Energy, Google, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Pacific Gas and Electric, Edison International, FLP, optiSolar, Pacific Solar Investments, enXco, Solel and Stirling Energy Systems are all racing in western Nevada in the largest solar play on the globe for a stake of the projected $45 billion per annum market by 2020.

As a part of President-elect Obama’s $800 billion spending package his administration will be announcing a revamp of the U.S.’s antiquated high-voltage power-transmission system so that it can deliver, solar, wind, geothermal, tidal and wave energies efficiently across the nation.

Currently, alternating-current (AC) lines cannot carry wind-generated electricity from the Midwest to the Northeast because too much of the energy would dissipate before it crossed the country. Instead Obama’s administration will invest in a new direct-current (DC) powerlines that will enable efficient long-haul transmissions.

GE and Google have embarked on a long-term partnership that will produce “smart” electricity features, including storage points with computerized management overlays that will allow the new grid to intelligently deploy the energy along the way.

Already a number of companies have undertaken this on a much smaller scale. ConsumerPowerline and EnerNOC pay supermarkets, hotels, hospitals and commercial buildings to let them reduce electricity on short notice when spikes in demand threaten a power outage. Almost 2,000 mega-watts of power can be reduced on command – savings equivalent to the output of two medium-sized coal-fired power plants.

In 2006, renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies generated 8.5 million new jobs, grossing $963 billion in revenue and yielding more than $100 billion in corporate profits. Clearly, these numbers are set to burgeon in the next decade.

Every building in North America needs to be weatherized and energy retrofitted. The excellent news is that is will require hundreds of thousands of workers’ and these are jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas.

Leaky windows, poor-fitting doors, insufficient insulation and outdated appliances require at least 30 percent more energy, which translates into wasteful high-energy utility bills.

An energy auditor will point out energy-saving opportunities to homeowners, renters and businesses. One consultation can save homeowners and renters hundreds or more likely thousands of dollars of savings in a year. Business owners can save tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by becoming energy efficient.

Do-it-yourself tasks include wrapping hot-water heaters with blankets, blowing insulation, plugging holes with caulking, repairing cracks, hauling out old appliances and replacing old windows with triple-glazed panes.

Plug all devices with stand-by modes like tvs, dvds, cable boxes and stereos into a power bar and switch the bar off when not in use. Turn off all lights when you exit a room, and shut down computers and printers when not in use. Unplug cell phone adapters, tooth-brush chargers, MP3 and Ipod cradles when not charging.

Did you know that video-game consoles suck two fridges worth of electricity when left on and that the set-top boxes on televisions use half as much energy as refrigerators whether they are on or off? Incidentally, an energy-star efficient refrigerator accounts for about 15 per cent of your monthly electric bill.

The average household in North America has at least 26-plug-in devices and by shutting them off – not leaving them on stand-by mode – you will save at least 25 per cent each month on your electric bill.

Weatherizing millions of buildings, installing millions of solar panels, manufacturing millions of wind turbine, geothermal, tidal and wave parts, planting and caring for billions of trees, building millions of plug-in hybrids and making solar, wind, geothermal, wave and tidal farms will require thousands of contracts, millions of workers and produce hundreds of billions of dollars to the North American economy in the coming decades.

Australia, Radio 1, National: Ockham’s Razor

Economy is Subservient to the Environment –

Earth Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning Science Communicator: Voice for Ecology,  distinguished conservation biologist at Cal Lutheran University, public speaker and his latest book is The Incomparable Honeybee He can be contacted through

Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2011. All rights reserved.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: