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We Are All From New Orleans Now: Climate Change, Hurricanes and the Fate of America's Coastal Cities

The true costs of no change

Romney understated the subsidy of fossil fuel industry by 99 percent in the first presidential debate. He stated $3 billion annually, but in fact it is at least $300 billion annually. A plausible estimate of the true externalized costs visited upon the US by the US fossil-fuel energy industries can be found in this text, which was published less than a week later.

Moreover, just yesterday, the president of the Edison Electric Institute was on TV saying that there is no better way to provide electricity than through the current (antiquated) system of power lines: either on poles or underground. That‘s why we can expect millions of people to be be without electricity for weeks. He stated that no one has suggested a better solution. Not true! In fact, a year following Katrina, Christopher Faust and Norman Witriol and I proposed and lobbied the City Council of New Orleans to adopt a standard of sustainability for homes. Among its provisions is that a home should be able to provide for its all the water, food and energy needed to provide for its residents for a week.

Such a home need not be connected to a robust grid; a meager one would more than adequate, since the batteries of such a home could recharge when electricity is cheap and at very low amperage—all of this normally happening during just a few hours a day.

A side-effect of this proposal is that it would make renewable energy effectively dispatchable. And thereby increase the economic value of such energy sources and hasten the obsolescence of conventional electricity generators.

Myron Katz, PhD

New Orleans

Nov 1 2012 - 6:44am