Recommendations of a special panel’s two-year effort to figure out ways to cut state energy consumption and thus do Montana’s part in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases were proudly unveiled by Gov. Brian Schweitzer last week.
The report discussed 54 specific ideas ranging from requiring utilities to include more renewable energy sources to increasing the production of crops that can be converted to biodiesel fuels. But the bottom line, at least for state government and the university system, was to cut energy use by 20 percent by 2010. The plan, said Schweitzer, is for the state to lead by example.
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For years, scientists have known that the building blocks in plant matter — not just corn kernels, but also corn stalks, wood chips, straw and even some household garbage — constituted an immense potential resource that could, in theory, help fill the gasoline tanks of America’s cars and trucks.
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Last spring, University of Montana ecologist and forestry professor Steve Running presented an abbreviated version of his increasingly popular lecture, “The Inconvenient Truth for Montana,” to a room full of environmental journalists.
Near the end of his keynote, Running outlined what he called his “Five Stages of Climate Grief.” Running’s adaptation of Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ groundbreaking “Five Stages of Grief” starts with stage one: denial that global warming exists. Denial naturally precedes anger: “I do NOT want to change my lifestyle.” Then stage three bargaining sets in: “Warming won’t be that bad.” Things get bad at stage four, depression: “It’s too late, we’re doomed.” But finally, if all goes well, you might get to the fifth and final stage, acceptance: “Okay, it’s real, now let’s get to work.”
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