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Jimmy Carter Talks Solar Energy
I grew up on a farm outside of Plains, Georgia. It was the Great Depression years; we didn't have electricity or running water. The first appliance we had was a windmill, for piping water into our house.
In fact, we didn't have any gasoline or diesel motors for a number of decades; mules and horses did all the work. We got all our energy from growing corn—the animals that we worked, the animals that we ate, and all the human beings depended on corn as just about our only fuel. We were totally renewable back then.
So when I became president, it was natural for me to want to extend this capability to people who were in danger of losing their energy supply. Because we had a good relationship with Israel—I tried to bring peace between Israel and Egypt—we had oil embargos. We lost our customary supply of oil, so I was very interested in seeing America be energy secure. It was a national security issue—all our tanks, our ships, our trains depended on oil back in those days.
I was the driving force for renewable energy when I was president. I made a series of speeches about it, my staff wrote the legislation, and we got various members of Congress to offer their support. It's important for the president to set an example, so in 1979, I installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House. I made a public commitment in 1979 that by the year 2000 we would have at least 20 percent of the nation's energy coming from renewable sources—from geothermal, or from the wind or the sunshine.
We had special programs that I got through Congress to give bonuses for finding new kinds of energy. We were well on the way to meeting that 20 percent target when I left office. Ronald Reagan wanted to abandon all of those commitments (some were written in law, and he couldn't do away with them). Later on, President Barack Obama started talking about 20 percent by 2020, so we were delayed in the process of moving to renewable energy by at least 20 years. I don't know what's going to happen in the future.
We now have in the neighborhood of 3,500 solar panels on 13 and a half acres of my farm in Plains, maybe 150 yards from my house, in what was formerly a peanut and soybean field. On a good day we can produce about 1.3 megawatts. We have 215 houses in Plains, and these solar panels at full power would provide enough energy for 200 of them. I'm very proud of our system—our solar panels rotate during the day, following the sun across the sky. It's much more productive per acre than systems with fixed panels.
I was there every day when they were installing the system—it took about three months. I worked very closely with the guys that own SolAmerica, the company that's the link between landowners and the power company. We just rent our land to them for so much per acre per year for a period of 25 years; they paid for the complete installation. I helped the contractors drive in the six-inch I beams and put in the cross braces to install the rotating systems and that sort of thing.
In the future, we could go up to five megawatts; that would take about 50 acres. The land's already set aside. I'm ready to expand whenever our major power company, Georgia Power, is ready to accept it. They'd been quite reluctant to encourage the use of solar power. Even when I, a former president, was quite interested in it as a personal project, it still took three years to get Georgia Power to accept the energy from my solar panels.
In some states where I have built Habitat [for Humanity] houses, we know that we can put solar panels on a house and in six or seven years they'll pay for themselves. Some power companies are encouraging homeowners to put solar panels on their houses. In Georgia, that's not the case.
I've been very proud of the project in Plains. I hope that my example as a former president will encourage others to pursue the same route. And I hope that the major power companies will adopt this as a commitment.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Sierra magazine.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.