I'm back in California today preparing for Thanksgiving with family and friends after a week on the road. Revisionist history aside, Thanksgiving is a great holiday—an opportunity in the midst of our hectic year-end hustle and bustle to spend two days pausing, recharging and looking into the faces of loved ones rather than our computer screens.
We here at The Story of Stuff Project are taking time this week to share and appreciate the things we're grateful for, which got me to reflecting on an opportunity I had last week to screen our latest movie, The Story of Broke, at the Occupy encampment in Edmonton, Canada.
Now I normally wouldn't go outside in the kind of weather that greeted me in Edmonton unless my house was on fire. Let's just say it was cold, really cold. Nevertheless, I couldn't pass up an invitation to show the movie at the camp before another speaking event in the city.
When I arrived at Occupy Edmonton, entering under a giant banner—Stop Shopping, Start Living—that made me feel right at home, my first thought was, "yikes, we're going to do this screening outside in the cold?" But soon enough I was ushered into a large, insulated, military-style tent that housed a wood burning stove, enough warm chili for everyone and chairs arrayed for viewing the movie on a screen that had been set up. They even had popcorn!
After showing the movie, someone asked me what impact I thought the Occupy movement was having. I told the gathered Occupiers that I thought they—and the entire movement—were making the discontent of millions visible in a way the most wild eyed optimist wouldn't have predicted was possible a few short months ago. And that in offering an invitation to everyone who thinks there's a problem to jump in and participate, they were providing a powerful antidote to the isolation so many feel.
That's similar to the experience I had back in 2008 when I released The Story of Stuff. The incredible response to the movie buoyed my spirits by proving that I wasn't alone—that there were millions of people around the world who shared my concern about the direction in which our society was headed. In many ways, the movie had taken the temperature of society and, as it turned out, I wasn't the only one who thought we had a fever.
Which brings me back to gratitude.
At The Story of Stuff Project, we give thanks every day for the enthusiastic and generous participation of the members of our community. When we released The Story of Broke on Nov. 8, you gave it a huge push. In fact, our network got more people to visit our website that day than on the day after I appeared on The Colbert Report. Sure, Stephen's great, but our community is greater!
Now, while there's no question this community played a big role in the successful rollout of The Story of Broke—almost 150,000 views in two weeks—it hasn't hurt that we're living in a time ripe with the potential for change.
Let's face it: something is in the air.
This Thanksgiving, we're grateful for that potential for big change we sense in the year ahead, as well as humbled by the hard work it will take to make that change happen. We're also hopeful, because we know many folks like you will be part of the struggle to get there, and that together we can do amazing things.
So on Friday, while millions head to the stores to scoop up the latest gadget or some discount schlock, I hope many of you will take an opportunity to stop by an Occupy camp near you. Let them know you're with them by standing next to them. You might even bring them some Turkey sandwiches or left over stuffing.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban the sale of new cars in California that run only on gasoline by the year 2035. The bid to reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis would make California the first state to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, according to POLITICO.
- How Norway Convinced Drivers to Switch to Electric Cars - EcoWatch ›
- Amsterdam Plans to Ban All Non-Electric Vehicles by 2030 - EcoWatch ›
- California Won't Buy From Automakers 'on the Wrong Side of History ... ›
- The UK Could Ban Gas and Diesel Car Sales in 12 Years - EcoWatch ›
- Spain Proposes Bill to Ban Gas and Diesel Vehicles - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
- Annual Whale Slaughter Still a Tradition on the Faroe Islands ... ›
- Hundreds of Pilot Whales Die in Devastating Mass Stranding in New ... ›
- Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back ... ›
- Illegal Wildlife Trade Thrives on Facebook, Internet Forums ... ›
- Facebook Loophole Allows Climate Deniers to Spread Misinformation ›
- Facebook Hires Koch-Funded Climate Deniers for 'Fact-Checking ... ›
By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
- Sweden to Become One of World's First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation s ... ›
- These Countries Are Leading the Transition to Sustainable Energy ... ›
- Sweden Shuts Down Its Last Coal Plant Two Years Early - EcoWatch ›