VISION: Infrastructure will be innovative, sustainable, and appropriate to the needs of the people, while having a minimal impact on our planet.
Danger: Most countries have poor and failing infrastructure that severely impacts daily life and threatens our safety.
Opportunity: Innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly technologies can better support our lives and communities. Shrinking government and moving into a truly free market can liberate creativity, lower the costs and raise the quality of our roads, utilities and other infrastructure.
Danger: American Infrastructure is Inadequate and Dangerous
Infrastructure is often taken for granted, but it’s what keeps your daily life running smoothly. The roads you drive on, the water you drink and how you get it, the electricity you use and how it’s generated, whether your waste is recycled or exported or left to rot are all determined by infrastructure. If infrastructure is broken, you notice. If it’s sound, you don’t.
Entire countries are struggling as a result of poor infrastructure. America’s infrastructure may look good, but it’s actually in a state of disrepair. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a near failing grade.
America’s approach has been reactive instead of proactive when it comes to infrastructure. When the levees broke in New Orleans in 2005, it wasn’t because the government didn’t have the ability to structurally secure it, it was because they ignored the evidence and warning signs. In fact, President George Bush, Jr. cancelled the majority of the funding that had been designated for the imminent repair of the levees. The result was disastrous: a beautiful city went underwater, thousands of lives were lost, families were shattered, and homes and businesses were destroyed.
Similarly, the 2010 Haiti earthquake which killed hundreds of thousands of people and made millions homeless, was not necessarily a natural disaster, but instead an “engineering disaster.” As head of AIDG (the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group) explains in this video, a much larger earthquake hit Chile almost a month later and the death toll was under 1,000.
What made the difference? Infrastructure. The buildings in Haiti were poorly constructed, whereas the ones in Chile were structurally sound.
We can avoid these tragedies and get people the electricity, drinking water, and safe housing they need. Check out the opportunities below.
Opportunity: Green Infrastructure Can Better Support Our Lives
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) it will take a 5-year investment of $2.2 trillion to get American infrastructure functioning properly. By addressing the problems now we can create more jobs, modernize communities, and build more sustainable systems.
The movement for green, natural infrastructure is becoming more popular as these videos show. Los Angeles, one of the most polluted cities, is taking important steps to clean up the city by redesigning its infrastructure with a whole-systems approach. It has already saved a lot of money and water by doing so.
Green For All shows how building a green economy can create millions of jobs and lift people out of poverty while saving the environment.
What Can I Do?
Green Your Home, School or Neighborhood...
Green Your Home:
Calculate the environmental impact of your household, and find out ways to lower it with the Low Impact Living Calculator.
Green Your School:
Get Better Cafeteria Food – Use this Toolkit with step-by step instructions to get healthy, local, sustainable food in your school cafeteria. You can also Link up Local Farms with Your School, Start an Edible Schoolyard, and/or a Life Lab Garden Classroom.
Get Your Energy From Renewable Sources – The “Alliance to Save Energy” has a Green School Program that works with students to come up with a plan to save energy in their schools.
Re-label Trash Cans as “Landfill” – By labeling trash cans as “landfill” you can cut down on waste and get students to think about where their trash is actually going. This is an easy and effective way to reduce waste.
Build Green - The U.S. Green Building Council offers a wealth of information to transform schools into healthy environments that are “conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money.” Check it out and make your school a Green School.
Join the Green Schools Initiative – The Green Schools Initiative “integrates efforts to reduce schools' ecological footprints, make school environments healthier, and get the whole community thinking about solutions to the problems we face.”
Green Your Neighborhood:
Transforming your neighborhood can take a lot of work, but it’s key to reducing our oil dependency. The “New Urbanism” movement focuses on greening neighborhoods by making more walkable spaces. The key is designing urban areas so you can walk to the grocery store, shops, work, parks, etc. Pick something you think is doable in your neighborhood (petition for a park in the area, talk with the county planning department about future growth, create a community garden, etc.) and work with your neighbors to make the shift.
Some examples to learn from include:
Prospect, Colorado – A new urbanist community still being developed.
Kentlands, Maryland – An award-winning neo-traditional community in Gaithersburg, Maryland. People can walk to school, work, and to do their shopping. There are single family homes, town homes, condominiums and rental apartments along with work/home units.
Seaside, Florida – A vibrant and evolving community of both year-round residents and seasonal guests united in the belief that life is enhanced when people interact, learn and share through experience.
 The 2009 ASCE report card gave US infrastructure a D grade. This included analysis of U.S. aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, energy, hazardous waste, inland waterways, levees, public parks and rec, rail, roads, schools, solid waste, transit, and wastewater.
DANGER: Nuclear Power is Unsafe
Why would we risk all life on Earth by unleashing the most dangerous pollutant ever discovered when there are safe, sustainable and cheap alternatives?
Some of the threats posed by nuclear power plants include:
- They create lethal radioactive waste - Nuclear reactors create lethal hazardous waste. There is no proven-safe means of disposing of it. It is often buried deep below ground – often near poor or Native-American communities – or stored in temporary containers that eventually break down. This contaminates our soil, causes long-term environmental devastation, and can potentially leech into our air and water supply.
- Nuclear weapons are made from waste generated at nuclear power plants - Commercial nuclear reactors make it easier for people to access the material to process into weapons grade plutonium for nuclear bombs and depleted uranium shells like those with which the US Army has polluted so much of the Middle East. Nuclear power plants are a serious national security threat – they allow for proliferation of nuclear technology and materials.
- They are extremely expensive - A comprehensive study found that nuclear reactors are much more costly than other alternative energy sources such as biomass, wind, geothermal, and some solar and conventional fossil fuels. No insurance companies will insure nuclear power producers so taxpayers have to pay to insure an unproven, unsafe option. Why should we insure something insurance companies find too dangerous to insure? The government subsidies that nuclear power relies on come from taxpayer dollars without taxpayer consent. These costs are not included in typical discussions of nuclear viability.
- They are never totally safe - Nuclear reactors are inherently risky and can never be 100% safe. The infamous Chernobyl accident of 1986 — which created a 36 mile dead-zone, killed thousands, and caused serious, ongoing health effects for many others — can still happen. As reactors get older, they become more vulnerable to leaks or melt-downs. As targets of attack by missiles or planes, they represent nuclear bombs waiting to be exploded. We don’t have to put all life at risk to create more energy.
- They are non-renewable - In order to generate electricity, nuclear plants require uranium, plutonium, and other radioactive materials that will eventually be depleted. Like oil, as these resources become more scarce, they’ll also become more expensive, driving the cost of energy up.
The nuclear industry has been attempting to convince politicians and the public that nuclear energy is a safe, viable, and environmentally friendly solution to our energy crisis. This dangerous deception is simply not true. And in fact, there are far better alternative energy solutions that cost a lot less and are not harmful to our health or the environment. To learn more about it check out the “opportunity” below.
OPPORTUNITY: We Can Access Electricity Without Harming the Planet or OurselvesThere are far better alternatives to nuclear power. They include “New Energy” devices, solar, wind, geo-thermal, and more. Rather than crashing, crunching and exploding atoms (and trying to control all the risks and results) we can blend with the natural movement of energy in the Universe to produce all the power we need. The good news is alternatives are already available, now it’s just a matter of making the shift. Here are some possibilities:
“Free” or “New Energy” Technology
The most potential for clean, renewable, and infinite energy exists in what’s called “New Energy” technologies, including Radiant, Zero-Point and Magnetic varieties. Resonant (rather than “explosive” – combustion, fission and fusion) technology devices access the energy that already surrounds us. They are not “perpetual motion” machines, because any mechanical device will eventually wear out, but they are “over-unity” – meaning that once initiated, they can provide significantly more electricity than it takes to run them. It means that a source of infinite energy is available to everyone – you don’t need coal, oil, the sun, or the wind. These devices have been brutally suppressed by those with vested oil interests, but have huge potential for humanity. Now is the time to spread the word about these devices and to support research, development and business ventures to create affordable devices for everyone. To check it out in more detail, go to the New Energy Technology section of this site.
It will take time to fully fund, research and develop New Energy Technology. In the meantime, wind and solar are good alternatives to current polluting energy industries. However, because wind and solar require intense use of materials, they are not sustainable in the long term. We therefore view them as a temporary improvement on the way to an even cleaner energy future.
Getting energy from the sun is a good alternative. Solar is growing by more than 40% every year and is taking off in countries such as Germany, China, and Japan. Solar is an exciting opportunity for the 1.6 billion people who are not connected to the grid – many of which are in poor, rural communities in developing countries. These people can bypass the step of connecting to the grid, and get relatively cheap rooftop solar water heaters. In fact, China has already installed at least 40 million of them, the equivalent of 54 coal-fired power plants. It’s also estimated that the sun-drenched southwestern United States has the ability to generate 7,000 gigawatts of electricity, about 7 times the amount currently generated from all sources in the U.S. combined. With a combination of solar plants in the Southwest and wind turbines in the Midwest, the U.S. could easily generate enough electricity to power the nation.
Find out how communities in California are making solar more affordable and accessible for everyone. (Click Here)
Global wind generating capacity went up almost 26% in 2006. Denmark is now powered by at least 15% wind power and other countries around the world are making similar advances. In the U.S. there is enormous potential for growth in the wind industry. As the Earth Policy Institute’s Lester Brown says, “The U.S. great plains are the Saudi Arabia of wind power.” Texas, North Dakota, and Kansas alone have enough wind to power the entire nation.
WHAT CAN I DO?
Sign the Petition for NO Nuclear Plant Near Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa - Let the CEO of Eskom Enterprises know that the global community does not support the building of a Nuclear Power Plant near Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa and urge him to shift efforts toward renewable energies. Click here to sign the petition.
 The Economics of Nuclear Reactors: Renaissance or Relapse? by Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis Institute for Energy and the Environment. June 2009. http://www.nirs.org/neconomics/cooperreport_neconomics062009.pdf
 To learn more about this See NuclearBailout.org. (http://www.psr.org/nuclear-bailout/)
 Lester Brown. Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. New York : W.W.Norton & Company, Inc., 2008. (246).
 World Watch Institute. Vital Signs 2007-2008, (36).
 See Lester Brown’s Eco-Economy, (103-104).