Written as an afterword 20 years later to his successful “The River Why,” David James Duncan ponders our environmental future. The reference to Thomas Mann’s classic “Buddenbrooks” is appropriately obscure, but when you realize that book is about the decline in health of four generations — each less healthy than the last — it gives this warning, written in 2003, even more poignancy today.
“Our legacy as Americans, like that of Hanno Buddenbrooks, is too powerful to escape. That the world is small, that its so-called ‘resources’ are not a boundless economic bonanza but finite parts of a fragile and holy web of life, that humanity is part of the same web, that the web’s health and ours are as closely connected as a child’s life and its heartbeat — these God-given links and limits will, I feel certain, be the scalding revelations of coming decades. Because they will scald, I pray for other revelations that soothe like love and water — and I believe we’ll get them. As wrongheaded and deadly as humans can be, we haven’t eradicated love or water yet.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the creation of two large solar projects today while at Occidental College.
“Today, we’re signing the largest solar contract in the history of the DWP,” Villaraigosa said. “Our contract with the K Road-Moapa Solar Project will provide 250 megawatts of solar power. That’s enough energy to power over 113,000 homes.”
K Road will develop the solar arrays on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in southern Nevada.
The contract with the Copper Mountain Solar Project will send up to an additional 210 megawatts to Los Angeles, enough to power another 76,000 homes. These two projects join the city’s other major solar projects, the Adelanto Solar Project, Kern County and the Feed-in Tariff program, which provides a financial incentive to homeowners who install on-grid photovoltaic systems.
The mayor chose Occidental College because of its new $6.8 million, 1-megawatt solar array, a project whose innovative design takes a distinctively liberal arts approach to green power with its blending of technology and art, according to the college.
With the almost-completed hillside array as a backdrop, he told a group of around 50 that the city’s goal for renewable energy use is 33 percent by 2020. Los Angeles gets about 40 percent of its energy from coal.
“We’re the only public utility that I know of in the entire state that isn’t just talking about a goal, but we have a real plan to get there. The fact that we’re at 20 percent and will be at 25 (percent) by 2015 is indicative of the milestones necessary to get to 33 (percent).”
Sierra Club President Allison Chin lauded the contracts as well as Villaraigosa from the podium.
“The Moapa Solar Project will be a boost to the Paiutes and the Sierra Club’s ongoing efforts to replace coal with clean energy in southern Nevada. The Pauite families are suffering from high numbers of asthma attacks, heart conditions and even cancer that’s associated with coal pollution,” she said.
The Sierra Club and the Moapa Band of Paiutes, located near the Reid Gardner plant, have called for its closure, but in August the federal Environmental Protection Agency green-lighted NV Energy to continue operations, as long as it installs controls to reduce the air pollution.