22 April 2009

Bike Rentals and Renewable Energy, Oh My!


For anyone who has been living under a rock and missed anything and everything about the economic crisis (and subsequent “rejuvenation” and “stabilization,” which are just the epitome of “buzz word,” it seems that every nation on Earth has placed “new Green technology” at the top of their list as to how we’re going to get out of the slump. “We’re going to be the World leader in green energy” comes to mind. While that would be super if the US is able to be the World leader, we may be living in that American bubble just a little too much at the moment.

All through southern Portugal the hilltops were dotted with wind turbines that now generate 5% of the nation’s power. Portugal is also building the world’s largest solar energy facility, which will deliver another 10%, making Portugal 15% renewable.

In Spain they’re already at 10% and apparently control the patents for about half of all existing technology! On top of that, the culture is just already much “greener.” For example, in Barcelona there are bike rentals at every metro stop called “Bicing.” For $30 a year you can get 30 minutes of biking free per day, then it’s just 30 cents for each 30 minutes after that.

Don’t even get me started on their rail networks. High-speed rail (faster than flying) now connects a majority of Western Europe. Where are we on this front? Approval was just given for a high-speed rail link from LA to San Fran and Buffalo to NYC. Completion date? 2015. Come on America. Let’s get moving! I firmly believe we can do it, but we’ve GOT to get our act together. Let’s continue to be that beacon on a hill, but lets power that beacon with wind and solar energy.

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Kyle Taylor

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