This plan turns the idea of freedom into a force to solve climate change.
No idea is more fundamental to Americans' sense of ourselves as individuals and as a nation than freedom (Eric Foner)
The idea of freedom has always being a powerful source for the development of the United States of America: Freedom from religious persecution, freedom from oppressive regimes, freedom to follow your own dreams.
Matthew T. Huber, however, argues that this powerful notion of freedom has also provided a large contribution in creating the current climate crisis, especially trough oil fueled mobility and the costs of preserving this.
In my plan this same idea of freedom is turned into a force to solve climate change, that with an Business as Usual emission path will take away the freedom of future generations to pursue their own dreams trough run-away carbon dynamics.
What if the consumers would use their purchasing power to buy electric cars freeing them from queus at the gasoline pumps forever?
Antonia Malchik argues that: "In Orwellian fashion, Americans have been stripped of the right to walk, challenging their humanity, freedom and health" Adding that: "In 2013 more than 4,700 pedestrians were killed, and an estimated 66,000 injured..."
What if city planners and authorities would re-create walkable and bike-friendly communities with good access to public transportation, providing freedom of movement also to those who cannot afford buying a car, as suggested in Transport Beyond Oil?: Policy Choices for a Multimodal Future?
What if, American farmers would reframe the idea of freedom, as freedom from imported oil, and would power their tractors with biogas produced from agricultural waste, while the rest product would serve as an effective fertilizer freeing them from energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizers? To uphold this freedom they also need to improve the resilience of rural communities towards climate change.
What if cities would free themselves from landfills and waste transports by turning into a circular economy, producing simultaneously biogas to run public transport?
And what are costs of this enhanced freedom? Large savings! For example, Kevin Mills’ and Thomas Gotschi’s calculations show that under a substantial mode-shift scenario, where 25 percent of trips would be made by bicycling or walking short distances, the economic benefits from fuels savings, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and health care savings related to increased physical activity could rise to $66 billion annually (Renne & Fields 2013).
Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?
Biogas from waste water and agricultural waste, freeing from the importation of fossil fuels: https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1301501/planId/1315012
Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab
I was choosing in the Regional Stanford EMF27 model
- the 450 ppm CO2e policy,
- Greater efficiency and
- Energy supply technologies: All no-carbon technologies available.
Whether this happen, depends on what the Americans decide to use their freedom for.
The model though stubbornly used, as it has an own free will Policy: Business as usual and standard efficiency.
- Energy efficiency: Baseline
- Energy supply technologies: All no-carbon technologies available
What are the plan’s key benefits?
Freedom from queues at gasoline pumps!
Freedom of movement regardless of income levels!
Freedom from landfills and waste transports!
Freedom from imported fossil fuels!
Improving balance of trade trough diminished imports! In 2009, the oil imports and net imports of vehicles and vehicle-parts represented 87 percent of that year’s $381 billion trade deficit (Renne & Fields 2013).
Improved health: research shows that states and nations with high rates of public transport use coupled with biking and walking have the lowest obesity rates (Renne & Fields 2013).
What are the plan’s costs?
One researcher has estimated that the cost of Americas oil dependence alone was $700-$800 billion in 2008 alone (see Graetz 2011). Thus freedom from this addiction could provide large savings.
It is, however, difficult to put a price tag on an idea, especially as it does not prescribe the use of a particular technology which costs can be estimated. Realizing the plan does not necessary cause any extra costs as it essentially only need a change of mindset, what me mean with freedom.
It means for example, adding the word Freedom to the reasoning for doing projects with beneficial climate effects:
- When producing biogas from waste that would otherwise leak methane, freeing from importation of fossil fuels
- When creating walkable cities, providing freedom of movement for everyone
Similarly it will be difficult to estimate possible benefits, as they depend on what Americans do with their Freedom:
- It will improve the balance of trade as the need for imports of fossil fuels diminishes.
What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?
Vested interests of fossil fuels companies.
One important challenge is to unleash America's energy innovation potential. Public action is needed to unlock the immense skills and resources of America’s private entrepreneurs, investors, producers, and energy users, so that they carry forward most of the innovation tasks (see Lester & Hart 2012). Freedom to innovate!
All technology needed is available, thus the implementation of the plan can start immediately.
Fulfilling this plan would make the United States of America an powerful example for the rest of the World:
Another plan stressing the use positive messages, which also provides good examples on what everyone can use their freedom to do:
Food bikes fit well into walkable and bike-friendly communities:
This proposal is inspired by: T. Huber, Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom and the Forces of Capital. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
John L. Renne and Billy Fields (eds.). Transport Beyond Oil: Policy Choices for a Multimodal Future. Washington, Covel & London: Island Press, 2013. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7bv8k6c0
Eric Foner, "The Contested History of American Freedom,"http://digitalhistory.hsp.org/pafrm/essay/contested-history-american-freedom
Graetz, Michael J. The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America’s Environment, Security, and Independence. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2011.
Lester, Richard K. and Hart, David M. Unlocking Energy Innovation: How America Can Build a Low-Cost, Low-Carbon Energy System. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012.
two latest books a reviewed here