Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back to the present

I'm back in the US after an emergency family visit which left me with more free time on my hands while in the UK than at any point I can remember in decades. Quite the luxury, really. Visits home are usually very busy with visiting family and driving, or visiting research centers and field sites and driving. Either way there's usually a lot of driving. The UK has become like the US, impossible to navigate without a car on many levels. This time I took the train for my longest trips, to and from from Heathrow, reserving the motoring for local running about, and it was much more pleasant.

I always enjoy trying out one or more of the economical European car models, though, while I'm there. This time I rented a Citroen C1, a tiny runabout that seemed to get about 55 miles per Imperial gallon, or about 45 miles per US gallon. I drove about 300 miles for 25 liters of gas, mostly suburban and rural driving.

According to Wikipedia, this is the second most economical production car available, after the Prius.

I also made good use of this time as far as academics is concerned. I visited a lot of historical sites and parks with some relevance for Unity College. Mostly, I delved into history and medieval human ecology. I spend a lot of time reading history, thinking of the past as window into the present. I didn't have to go far. Britain is steeped in history. All the sites were within 30 miles of my parents retirement bungalow in the Rhondda.

But now I'm back in my own den, in my own home, on my own farmland, and it's time to get back to the present, even if that means cutting the grass, paying the bills, and hoeing the vegetables as first priorities.

Sustainability begins at home.

President Obama will address the nation by radio tonight on the topics of energy and economic recovery. As a second priority, if my chores are done, I want to hear what he has to say. I'm looking for ideas and policies that will break the logjam on deploying renewables and efficiency, while adding jobs.

The key feature of any new energy and economic policy that could succeed will have to be a carbon price. No command-and-control system, or cherry-picking of technology, or anything really but a carbon price will do the job.

I'm hoping to hear that the White House will spur Congress to bite the bullet on at least one of the tabled bills that contain carbon pricing measures.

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