From the Ground Up

Community by Community

Over the past century and a half, human-driven emissions of carbon dioxide have altered the climate balance of our planet. The only way to limit further climate changes is to plug the streams of carbon pouring into our atmosphere while returning as much of it as possible back into the earth as quickly as possible.

Lauren Kuntz: source

From what we hear and read, it may seem as though we already have the technological knowhow to do this – renewable energy and batteries – and that the sole obstacles are the fossil fuel industry and politicians’ unwillingness to enact and enforce urgently needed change.

If only Exxon were not evil. 

If only we’d stayed in the Paris Climate Accord. 

If only someone else had done something. 

With such a perspective, it’s easy for individuals and communities to feel removed from both the problem and the solution. 

Carbon is embedded into our lives: from the clothes we wear and food we eat to how we get from point A to point B — everything has a carbon price tag on it.

Eliminating carbon demands a complete redesign of how we use energy and where that energy comes from. There is no silver bullet solution to a challenge of this scale; while wind, solar, and batteries have a role to play, they alone are insufficient. 

How do we deal with the intermittency of renewable energy? 

How do we replace liquid fuels with carbon-free options? 

How do we create social change to reduce energy consumption? 

Renewables cannot answer all these questions. Any plan for carbon zero hinges on ideas yet to be invented. Answers cannot be reverse-engineered from solutions we don’t have.

“The built environment is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions. How we develop our communities — from land use to new construction — can offer powerful tools for carbon mitigation and sequestration.”

As order-of-magnitude systems of energy, agriculture, transportation, and industry are reevaluated in the growing carbon crisis, local people have a powerful role, one that buys critical time for the fragile ecology that supports human life on earth. 

The built environment is responsible for a third of greenhouse gas emissions. How we develop our communities — from land use to new construction — can offer powerful tools for carbon mitigation and sequestration.

Once modeled, these methods can scale, community by community, building regional, state, and national alliances of local people at the forefront of the climate revolution.

Lauren Kuntz: source 1, source 2