Philadelphia area reporter Shawn Rice recently had an opportunity to talk with environmental pioneer Ed Begley, Jr.
What we learn from around the world can impact each of us here in Greater Philadelphia and across America. On any given day the sun produces more energy on the surface of the earth than all the fossil fuels burned combined. We just need to tap it. Imagine that a beautiful, sunny day provides all the energy needed for a village in Kenya to heat and cook their food. A simple technology, which applies solar reflectors to a makeshift oven, intensifies the sunlight to produce the necessary heat.
This technology known as 'sun-cooking' creates a clean, safe resource that offers an instant solution to a culture ready and willing to adapt to a changing world. All of this is captured in a documentary short entitled "Suncookers" airing as part of a series of films available through Earth Cinema Circle (ECC).
These suncookers are not only used by the villagers but also by actor and environmental activist, Ed Begley Jr. He 'walks the talk' and serves as the narrator, introducing the films released on DVD by ECC, which offers a bi-monthly selection of inspiring eco-friendly films, as well as exclusive membership in a community dedicated to improving the health of the planet.
"I don't think I can ever be as clear or eloquent as these movies. These are great movies. I do a good job in my way but these films in [ECC] are powerful tools to encourage green choices," Begley said.
Begley has been practicing a green lifestyle since the 1970s although he confesses that he still makes comprises. Like when he travels, Begley balances the benefits of an environmental conference to the negatives of using jet fuel to decide if flying is the best option. Begley said, "We are very dependent on lots of energy sources and products. In order to meet our needs we buy more stuff. Solar panels are just things. Good things. But we need to encourage people to consume less."
Begley is coming to our area:
The GREAT GREEN EXPO is delighted that Begley has agreed to speak at the major event in Wilmington, Delaware this Spring. Last year the EXPO welcomed a record breaking 10,000 attendees. The Delaware GREAT GREEN EXPO is the first show of its type in the region to highlight area businesses that are helping homeowners and the environment in various ways. The event will take place on Saturday, March 29, 2009 at the Chase Riverfront Arts Center at 800 South Madison St, Wilmington, Delaware 19801. You can learn how to make your home more energy efficient, save money, and also get tips on how to clean up the air and water in your town or city.
Reducing CO2 Emissions:
The average U.S. Household generates 27.3 TONS of CO2 Emissions. Americans contribute to greenhouse gas pollution at an alarmingly higher rate than the rest of the world. Here is a sample of the average household emissions from other countries:
To help Americans get on track for carbon footprint reduction and become better world citizens, ECC has several great strategies, and they send subscribers four different films that are theirs to keep every other month. ECC's DVDs contain features, shorts and documentaries that explore subjects on wildlife, conservation, environmental choices, inspirational biographies, adventurous eco-travel and more. Membership in ECC supports The Conservation Fund's Go Zero Program to offset carbon dioxide emissions through the planting of trees. In addition, ECC uses 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable eco-conscious packaging designed to make the smallest environmental footprint possible.
Begley recommended that people should attempt to start becoming more eco-friendly by trying green tactics and products that are cheap. As an example, people can start conserving energy by just turning off more lights and water faucets when they are not in full use. Then, people can graduate into more advanced systems and consider investing in advanced technology like solar panels.
Turning to the challenges of making a green difference, Begley commented that "for years people have felt that they are overwhelmed by the problem" but that "they are overwhelmed now by the solution." He suggested that environmental activists need to act like good outfitters and get the consumers the right equipment to climb that hill.
"You have to get them into the tent anyway... even if it means encouraging people with money incentives. With today's financial challenges, it is a good point to get people involved by money incentives," Begley remarked.
Money Talks! - Good News on Tax Credits:
The new "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008", signed into law on October 3, 2008, provides a significant tax credit for homeowners by lifting the previous cap. After December 31, 2008, the previous $2,000 cap will be removed for Solar Photovoltaic systems (but not solar water heaters) giving homeowners the full 30% tax credit. This credit is also completely separate from the $500 home improvement credit bill which has extended tax credits for energy efficient home improvements like windows, doors, roofs, insulation, and HVAC.
Although there are different shades of green, ECC and Begley strive to educate people about the benefits of becoming a more environmentally conscious consumer. In the end the goals and achievements of both can be seen in a beautiful day with a clear sky.
"The goal is zero waste. Just stay on that path. Hammer on that idea," Begley said.