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It's Not Easy Being Green
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

What would happen if you totally altered your life in order to reduce your carbon footprint?


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45:00 minutes (21.6 MB)
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Author Doug Fine and his dog in the gardenAuthor Doug Fine and his dog in the garden
"Think Globally - Act Locally" is a great idea that's been sadly reduced to a bumper sticker slogan. But there's a new movement that's bringing the idea back.

Buzzwords like "sustainability" and "carbon footprint" have become part of our vocabulary, and we grapple with the effects of global warming, a struggling economy, and rising fuel prices. But what do they really mean? Is it realistic to live a "carbon-neutral" life? Author and radio correspondent Doug Fine tried...for 12 months to live "off the grid" on a remote Ranch in New Mexico...his findings: "It's not easy being green."

Today, Where We Live, a conversation with Doug Fine about his book, "Farewell My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living."

We'll also talk to groundbreaking environmental writer Bill McKibbon...he's spent a career writing about these ideas...and in his new book, "Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" he argues that a more prosperous world is not necessarily one filled with more stuff.

If you have questions or comments for us, send us an email at [email protected].

For a slideshow of pictures from Where We Live, visit WNPR Images on Flickr.com

Suggestions, Questions or Comments? Add them below!


email to wherewelive@

The guest you had on this morning ( 4/04/08 ) who advocated us all to go out and invest in solar panels ( or wind-powered electrical generators ) for use at our homes in my opinion has a good heart, but his argument doesn’t make sense. My first criticism is that there are much better investments of public and private money that can reduce the carbon footprint than to categorically subsidizing costly electrical generation systems.

Limited spending of public and private funds would initially be better spent on things such as:

• Expanded community recycling systems ( for example collecting aluminum foil – a very energy intensive product )

• Subsidizing private and business purchases of energy efficient cars ( say a $1000 payment on any car getting >50 mpg

• Payment of a energy system’s consultants to determine if a solar or wind-powered system was appropriate for a location

• Federal funding for development of greatly more efficient electrical energy transmission technologies

• [ I’m not an expert on this, but there must be a lot of other ideas ]

A second criticism is that faced with a crisis ( whose coming has been apparent for years ), Congress, consultants, and companies who produce energy using/saving products immediately jump to rigid solutions without having adequately thought through the implications and examined better uses of the available funds. It’s my belief we need a very high-level Federal commission to take up where Jimmy Carter left off to devise a best-can-do strategy to address the energy-use problem at hand. This commission should be composed primarily of scientists, engineers, economists, and finance experts, plus a very few key persons from Congress. It should be set up in a manner that leads to a project somewhat like the Manhattan Project in the 1940’s.

I request that you devote a program ( or several programs ) to having a small panel of experts discuss what opportunities exist for conserving electrical use, recycling high carbon footprint materials, and improving energy using devices efficiencies.

Thank you for today’s great program on a critical subject. // Richard

email to [email protected]

I just heard a caller on the where we live program say that the pay back period for PV solar panels did not match the return of putting that money into a bond. He quoted 9 cents a (fixed) cost per kwh for electricity.
First the cost now in Ct is 12 to 14 cents per kwh and is going to raise with the cost of oil/natural gas. After say 10 years installed PV panels may well be paying back a very good return when electricity reaches 20 plus cents a kwh.

Secondly, PV panels and the associated energy efficiency improvements improve the economy in general - i.e. Sweden is one example. Also a realy BIG important gain in quality of live /economy is that PV panels reduce pollution that means clearer air, less maintenance of understructure, and healthier local foods.

Green & Clean Energy

Check www.ctcleanenergyoptions.com to find out how any CL&P or U.I. customer can simply sign up to get their electricity from windpower & small hydroelectric instead of from coal, natural gas and nuclear (which is where it comes from, otherwise). Its easy and not expensive to get clean electricity generated from windpower and small hydroelectric right now! (More states also have this option available.)

Also, if/when your Town Government joins the Clean Energy Program (the Town agrees to purchase 20% of the town's electricity from clean energy sources by 2010), your town gets a FREE PHOTO-VOLTAIC SOLAR PANEL for every 100 households in the town that have signed up for clean electricity. Find out more at www.ctinnovations.com

Please tell others about this!

email to [email protected]

Dear Where We Live,

Thank you for airing this excellent and important topic.

My husband and I have been taking many steps to reduce our consumption
of fossil fuels.

This Spring begins our second season of growing about 40 varieties of
vegetables, fruits, and herbs in our backyard using organic methods.
What we can't use immediately gets canned, frozen, and given to
friends and family to enjoy.

We're currently remodeling our kitchen -- we insulated the outside
walls and used spray-in expanding foam to close up all the drafty gaps
around doors, windows, and throughout the basement.

When we replaced my elderly car with a new one, we bought a very small
one with high gas mileage. In good weather, I ride my bicycle to
classes. We also bought a used tandem bicycle last year which we use
to get about town and visit people - it's equipped with a rack and
pannier bags on the back for groceries, library books, or anything!

Finally, my husband is about to switch jobs from a hospital in
Bridgeport (a 30-minute car ride on I-95) to one right here in New
Haven. He'll be able to ride his bicycle every nice day and when it's
snowy or rainy he can take the city bus! We'll save the environment
from 1 hour of a car's carbon monoxide emission per day; he won't have
to risk the danger of the freeway; and he'll get to see the heart of
this beautiful city every day!

Thanks again,

Laurie Desiato
New Haven, CT