In mid-March I did another walk to stop the Northeast Energy Direct or NED pipeline that’s planned to cut across parts of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, eventually sending the gas for export. I stayed with friends I met on the pipeline walk in January who live off the grid in a lovely four-bedroom home in the woods that’s powered by a tiny number of solar panels. Ron explained that’s because they have a tiny energy footprint: they are very judicious with their use of electricity; don’t have a freezer or a clothes dryer for that reason; take very short showers; and go on-line with their computers for only a few hours a day. The air is clean and the view is to die for. And the house is filled with beautiful watercolors from Ron's wife, Nina. No suffering or deprivation going on there.
I wish we could put solar panels on our roof, but we’d have to cut down our big maple tree that’s shading the entire south-facing side, which of course would increase our need for both heating and cooling and wreck the whole cool, cozy feel inside the house. One solution could be Shared Solar, in which solar arrays are built in the best available location and households that can’t have their own panels could draw renewable power from them. Even though it’s a proven and very successful technology in Massachusetts and several other states, Connecticut, where I live, has so far not invested in this option, due to huge pushback from the electric utilities, and, I think, the fact that most elected officials, including our governor, favor a build-out of fracked gas infrastructure in the state over a big renewables push.
That’s too bad, since a new paper from James Hansen and colleagues indicates that sea levels are rising much faster due to global warming from burning fossil fuels than the consensus scientific opinion has indicated. And that includes the methane that constitutes most of so-called natural gas, which, molecule for molecule, recent studies show may be warming the climate even more than carbon dioxide. Hansen is the NASA scientist who testified before Congress way back in 1988 that human-caused global warming had already begun. In the past almost 30 years, it’s only grown worse.
After the first day of the pipeline walk, director Josh Fox screened his new documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, which illustrates beautifully the importance of community, courage and love even in the brave new world of rising seas and megastorms.
Our opposition is being noticed by the industry and the media and credited with slowing down many fossil fuel projects and killing at least one. On March 24, seven activists, including Josh Fox, Megan Holleran, Tim DeChristopher, and several members of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) were arrested when they blocked the driveway to FERC's parking lot and carried out a "Pancakes not Pipelines" action reminding FERC officials and employees of the needless destruction of the Holleran's sugar bush.
The photo above is of builder Will Elwell (on the left) and his friend and landowner Larry Sheehan, who gave Will permission to build a replica of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond as a barrier across the route of the N.E.D. pipeline. Click here for brief interviews with Josh, Larry and Will.