The decision to invest in clean energy was pure business and one that has bought sizeable investment to Georgetown
What does it take? That’s the question I always come back to when things are at an impasse and there seems to be no way ahead. This was the question that was topmost in my mind last Friday eve which I spent in the presence of Al Gore at a live Q&A screening followed by his latest environmental documentary, An inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.
For me, Global Warming is not a religion -- not a question of leaving it up to the individual as to whether they believe in it or not. The evidence is around us. What we see and experience with our own senses, let alone the big data, tells us the planet is really not well.
Whatever your feelings about Al Gore, he has been a consistent and persistent voice in the climate movement. His first documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, had a huge impact on public opinion and public awareness with regards to global climate change.
And just as Harry Potter created Dumbledore’s Army to train his school chums to take-on Voldemort, as no one else in the wizarding world would take the threat of latter’s return seriously, Gore has created the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. This programme teaches citizens to become Climate Reality Leaders, organising community action on climate crisis. To date it has trained more than 12,000 Climate Reality Leaders from 136 countries with the next training camp taking place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from October 17-19, 2017.
This latest documentary carries on where the last one left off, and the footage of the havoc that global warming is playing with our planet is deeply distressing.
But Al’s film is being watched by those who already believe in the message and who are active in the struggle.
Money talks, and this film introduces us to an accidental hero, conservative Dale Ross, mayor of Georgetown, which is about 30 miles north of Austin, Texas and right in the centre of red state Republican America.
With a Rooney-esque charisma (Mickey not Wayne), Trump-supporter Ross proclaims his town with a population of 65,000, is the greatest city on planet earth, which also happens to be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy.
But it’s the love of greenbacks as opposed to love of Mother Nature that has set the agenda. The decision to invest in clean energy was pure business and one that has bought sizeable investment into the town.
Power comes from the solar installation in the West part of the state and from a wind farm 40 miles west of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle. Georgetown has direct contracts with the solar and wind providers, paying their rates to pull as much power off the grid as is needed. What made this happen were the transmission lines put in by former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who now serves as Energy Secretary under Trump.
According to NBC, long-term contracts with the solar/wind providers will shield Georgetown from price fluctuations for the next 25-30 years, and cites Ross as saying: "I think we will run out of fossil fuels before we ever run out of sunshine and wind."
Quite so, and that leads us nicely to one of our highlighted stories this week, the news that Dubai’s Sustainable City has kicked off operations of a solar installation, which will eventually produce up to 10 MW of power at maximum capacity. Billed as Middle East’s first operational sustainable community, Sustainable City is built on a 5-million square foot complex located eighteen miles from Dubai City and is expected to host a population of around 2,000.
In its planning I wonder if the words Climate Change were mentioned? I suspect they were given Dubai’s commitment to smart city innovation and sustainable goals.
Yet apparently, the debate amongst civic leaders in Georgetown when deciding to go down the renewables route never even mentioned those two little words.
It may appear to be a case of a rose by any other name, and even though the end result in Georgetown is the desired one, we can’t give in to denial of any sort. Climate change is here and it is happening now, and clean energy is just part of the effort in its alleviation.