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Michiganders Like It Windy

August 20, 2012 - You know, it's hard to decide what to write about these days.  Climate extremes are happening all the time now, and I don't ever want to treat what people are going through as if it were unimportant.  On the other hand, it's very easy to tell what my readers like, and want: you guys want to hear some good news.  Last week's blog article was the most popular I've ever written, bar none.  So this week I'm going to mix it up.  First, let's all admit that it's impossible to ignore the fires burning in the western United States.

I know - they're getting a lot of coverage, and it's pretty scary stuff.  There's nothing I can say to make the situation less horrible than it is.  We all want so very badly for the fires to just stop burning!  Fact is, dead trees as dry as tinder are always going to catch fire when they're struck by lightning.  This is a good time to remind ourselves of one of those basic facts of life: we can turn to each other in times of need.  Not just for money, or food, or shelter.  We need to turn to each other for comfort; it's essential.  Being scared hollows us out.  It can cause us to deny our feelings.  Turning to each other for kindness and empathy validates our feelings.  We can acknowledge the truth, then face it together.  There's a lot of truth out there, waiting to be faced.

Is this going to happen every year, we wonder anxiously?  Think about it: it can't.  Once the trees burn down, they can't burn again.  Not for a long time, anyway.  Of course, as long as dead trees remain standing, as they undoubtedly still do in many places, they can serve as fire fodder.  Shouldn't those be cleared away?  Hiring people to do that - I guess they'd be Forest Service employees - costs money.  For that matter, it's my opinion that we need more trained fire fighters.  That, of course, costs money, too.  Tax money.  Meeting dire circumstances head-on is one of the uses of our taxes.  Or was, until we forgot why we pay taxes.  Now I guess we'll scramble the best we can.

Enough about that.  This is an election year, which means Americans everywhere will not only elect a president, they'll cast their ballots for or against propositions, resolutions, and proposals, probably in every state.  In Michigan, citizens will, I hope, vote to approve The 25 x 25 RES Proposal.  When they do, they'll vote to increase Michigan's renewable energy standard (RES) to 25% by 2025.  The reason that's a good idea is that "25 x 25" will double the number of green jobs in Michigan.  How would it do that?  By creating 31,500 construction jobs, 43,000 operations and maintenance jobs, and 4,200 manufacturing jobs.

The news just gets better from there.  The RES Proposal would also result in $10 billion in new investment.  Sounds too good to be true?  Not when you take into account that, while Michigan imports the majority of its fossil fuel, at a cost of $22.6 billion, it has enough local renewable energy potential to power itself three times over.  In fact, renewable electricity is now cheaper than coal-fired electricity, and that's before you take into account factors like respiratory ailments caused by pollution, greenhouse gases changing the climate, and mercury poisoning the environment.

Wind energy, it turns out, works best for Michigan.  In 2008, Michigan had 34 wind turbines up and running.  Today, there are more than 288.  In the wind industry alone, the 25 x 25 RES Proposal would culminate in 22,450 job years from construction, 14,500 job years in affiliated job sectors like land leasing and legal services, 4,650 job years in lodging and food services for construction workers, and 1,130 job years to run and maintain the new turbines.  And you thought California always led the way when it comes to alternative energy.  Watch out - here comes Michigan!

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