The cost of doing nothing

I just received my electric bill. I am pleased to say that I used only 6 kilowatt hours per day, thanks to my conservation efforts. My bill always comes with a newsletter from the electric cooperative. Yet again, the coop is moaning about new and tightening EPA regulations that protect air and water resources. The newsletter speaks of the costs of regulation, and warns me that rates are likely to go up. What they don’t talk about is the cost of not protecting our air and water, and the cost of not cutting down on CO2 emissions. On the one hand, I may have to pay 10% more on my energy bill. On the other hand, my risk of asthma increases due to particulate matter from smokestacks. The fish I would like to eat will bio-accumulate even more mercury from coal plant emissions. The increasingly volatile weather will do more damage to property (including the distribution system maintained by the electric cooperative). My homeowners insurance will go up another 30% due to increased risk from extreme weather events. My local beaches will wash away and be inundated by extreme high tides, as the oceans continue to rise. The food I buy will continue to get more expensive, due, in part, to record-breaking droughts and heatwaves that are decimating food crops.

So, tell me again, why I am supposed to be incensed by regulations that attempt to limit environmental damage and catastrophic climate change? How can you really put a price on clean air and water? How can you put a price on your health? I’d love to have both cheap energy and a pristine environment, but I’d much rather invest a few dollars in protecting the environment, now, rather than squander our natural resources and gamble with our future. The first rule of gambling is to never bet more than you can afford to lose. We have no planet B.

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A Word About Life

A recent life experience has prompted me to write this …

If you run off the people who care enough to tell you things you don’t want to hear, your world view will be shaped by lies and half-truths.

I may not be happy to hear what you have to say, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to say it. I strive to make solid decisions, based on all of the available information. My capacity for observation is limited. I’m one of those people who tends to think out loud, at times. I do that because I want others to critique my thought process. It is nearly impossible to critique one’s own thinking. I don’t want to go blissfully into self-serving banality.

Speaking of decision making, I think I’ve finally decided to go ahead with the lead acid golf cart batteries for my solar power storage. They have a pretty decent life span and they stand up well. I have a little money in the budget, so I guess I’ll be purchasing those pretty soon. Once I have more battery capacity, I can connect more loads to my solar power system and make better use of the PV capacity.

I was pretty happy with my summer energy usage. Between the steel roof, the solar water heater, limited use of my photovoltaics, and the sun oven, I managed to cut my power usage by 40%. The goal is not to get off the grid, but to become somewhat energy independent; in the event of a long term outage, and to insulate myself from increasing energy costs, without going into debt. I am making progress towards that goal, but I have to stay within my budget. It’s a slow process.

It is noteworthy to add that I don’t expect all of these systems to pay for themselves in the short term (under 10 years), although some of them already have. The PVs may never pay for themselves, but I hope they pay for the batteries. This is all part of my retirement plan. I’m making investments today that will continue to pay dividends, long into the future.

Which brings me back to how this entry started. Good friends are also investments, and pseudo-friends are liabilities. I suggest that everyone should hold on to the people who help them grow and improve. Whether or not you keep the others around is just a cost/benefit equation. I think I know who my real friends are, and that’s where I make my real investments.

Life is hard, but it could be worse! 🙂