Citizens Guide: Introduction

Citizens Guide to Sustainable Energy

Introduction

Climate change, pollution, resource wars, economic growth, and the basic functions of daily life all revolve around how energy is produced and consumed. By the turn of this new century the impacts of the previous century's growing dependence on and abuse of fossil fuels finally started to enter into the public conscience. However you may view and explain the causes or consequences, there is widespread recongition of the need for new solutions, of moving towards ways of life based on renewable, clean and "sustainable energy." Easy to say but what does this really mean?

3 Mile Island alerted citizens to the risks of nuclearWhile most people recognize the extreme importance of the "energy problem" in America and the world, there are huge disagreements about the solutions. Clearly, the world and especially the United States is addicted to fossil fuels. What is are the impacts and nature of this dependence? What are our alternative options?As those running for office debate their plans, the rest of the country must inform itself and decide what kind of national as well as local strategies need to be put into place and practiced in order to avert the serious dangers of neglect and abuse.

One of the purposes of this guide is to help citizens explore available facts and opinions of viable alternatives and attempt to answer the question "what is sustainable energy?" It is to help those taking the first of the 5-Step Citizens Action Plan on Climate and Energy -- to inform and educate ourselves about the impacts and implications of energy production/consumption practices and policies.

Most agree on the need to promote renewable energy-- yet often disagree on the definition of what is "renewable." Some think nuclear power is a renewable energy source, while others object. Some believe biofuels is a key to the future, while others see misleading scams. Some believe that all energy options should be included in the final mix of national energy policies. Others believe only certain technologies and approaches, including changing habits and lifestyles, will serve the future's needs.

Who is right? How to decide on what is the right strategy for our countryto follow and our policymakers to embrace? Where does our Congress, the Administration, state and local government stand on sustainable energy goals and steps forward?

The following pages offer some resources in making our way through this technically and politically complex set of alternatives in the quest of developing and implementing sustainable energy strategy at both the national, state, local and household levels:

 

Note: This Guide was first launched in October 2008 in conjunction with the Earth Charter Community Summits as an open-ended, work-in-progress, to help concerned citizens identify and assess the resources and information available addressing today's energy and climate challenge. We will continue to update and develop the Guide with input from users and experts as we go along.

 

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Energy and Climate Change

In the United States, as in other parts of the world, citizens are increasingly concerned about the threats to our future posed by climate change and our addiction to fossil fuels. In turn, many US citizens recognize the need to take responsibility for ourselves and our country in transforming the ways we produce and consume energy -- in our households, communities, regions and nation.