Local Agenda 21 seen for the energy prospective – The Enschede vision
This vision is seen from the perspective of energy. The perspective has a natural principle.
The law of conservation of energy.
Every process uses up the same amount of energy it produces. The energy income always originally derives from the sun.
A big part of the energy is transformed in heat that gets lost in space. The energy reserve available on earth, in the shape of fossil fuel, is limited. Also then uninterrupted solar energy supply has a limit.
In the rest of this chapter we will discuss the 7 themes of LA 21. In order to avoid confusion the first theme of LA 21 (International) is dealt with last. We also added an extra theme, water.
As it happens the theme and the perspective are the same. Natural energy production
All energy eventually originates from the sun. The best way to go about Sustainable development is to contain, to keep this energy as long as possible in a usable form before it disappears into space. This means that we need as much green (nature) as possible because plants are the best sunlight to energy converter.
Plants are food for mankind and animals alike.
So, indirectly, people eat sunlight.
The amount of energy used shouldn’t be higher than the average caption of solar energy. This principle has far-reaching consequences for the following themes.
Mining rather harvesting fuel mustn’t impede natural energy production (hydro-electricity and strip-mining). These types of exploitation do not permit plants to collect solar energy. The plants are no longer edible. This way so-called energy production by humans” impedes the energy production and storage by nature.
We must strive to a cleaner way to convert energy. With the notion Clean Energy we mean the energy conversion processes whereby the environment is not affected by undesired side products (CO2, SO2, NOx, acid rain).
During the life cycle of the energy converter the energy use mustn’t be higher than the energy-production cost. A solar cell costs (read: in 1995) the same amount of energy to make than it can produce during its useful lifetime. So a solar cell actually costs energy because we haven’t even considered the price yet. You can see similar paradoxes with e.g. modern (electrical) windmills and so-called energy efficient lamps. Conclusion
The only clean energy based on present technology is agriculture, forestry and fishery, if done well. This means it can not be slash and burn or predatory exploitation. This form of clean energy should be sufficient.
Building takes up a lot of space which could have been used for energy capture by nature. “Space-efficient per person” living gives us energy because you conserve it instead of transforming it into heat. (Have you ever walked across a full parking lot in summer??) Building, heating, maintaining and demolishing buildings costs energy.
Newly built neighbourhoods put more pressure on the environment because of the need for more roads. When planning building and living, minimizing the energy to be invested must be taken into account.
The energy-cost of demolishing a building has to be taken into account in its design to prevent waste of both material and energy.
In architecture the flexibility in use of the building has to be considered. This means that buildings must have a multi-functional character, so you can use them no matter what the application.
Life styles in the sense of single, family, commune, influence houses and abodes. Group housing with common and private spaces diminishes the number of kitchens and sanitary provisions needed. The energy needs of group housing is lower in principle.
In nature all processes and materials are organized in cycles. We must strive to get as close as possible to these natural cycles. Nature shows us that all processes are closely interwoven in Dynamic-cyclic balances. Cultural processes can only continue to exist if they are in dynamic-cyclic balance as well.
All production and demolition processes use energy. It’s a matter of life or death to produce in such a way that the cyclic production, use and destruction demand as little energy as possible. The waste-phase is the transformation of products into raw material or half-products. Also this requires energy and has to be taken into account in the price of the product.
To get rid of waste you can burn it. That way you can use the last bit of energy. The result is a heap of rubbish you can’t get rid off. This rest is very energy and time expensive for nature to incorporate it into a cycle. You can’t keep this up indefinitely and so it is undesirable in principle.
So the answer here is to try to clean up the waste deposits and re-use as much material as possible. Alas we must accept loss of material for existing waste deposits. Not all garbage is re-usable, but a lot of waste is. Future dumps are avoidable.
Moving people and goods uses up a lot of energy and seriously pollutes the air. We think that the traffic-need can be reduced drastically, but we need to change our “mobility behaviour”.
In the transport of goods a decrease of kilometres travelled, and so used energy, can be brought about by developing a consumption behaviour which is based on the consumption of local goods.
Transport of people in commuting is not energy efficient when a car is used. The energy the car uses to get to the pace of work is a lot higher than the energy invested in the actual work. If the distance between the home and the place of work is reduced, this can help save energy. The need to use a car disappears.
In towns and cities we must create possibilities that make the bicycle the fastest mode of transport. The space used by cars should be reserved for bicycles. Table 1 shows the various means of transport and their energy use.
|Vehicle||Fuel used per 1000 km p.p.|
|Table 1: Vehicles and fuel usage. Source: NJMO & IPP, Future in Action, 1994|
In Agriculture solar energy is transformed into a form that can be used for human consumption. Maximum profit based on an infinite time scale is vital. Therefore soil exhaustion has to be avoided. Food and fibre production has to be aligned with local consumption of humans and livestock.
Organic agriculture has to be the standard to follow. Farmers and consumers should develop the insight that it’s more expensive to pollute the surface water using fertilizer and pesticides. If surface water is kept clean, we save energy which is needed to render the environment optimal for man and his surroundings. The means and methods used in agriculture are not energy efficient, they use more energy than they yield.
Local, “green” produced products are sold in all possible sales points, and therefore also in supermarkets. Packaging food can’t use more raw materials than strictly necessary.
Food is the end product of a cycle, clothes, however, aren’t. It’s possible to change the mentality in buying new clothes. The latest fashion needn’t be the main reason to buy new clothes. After clothes have been worn they can often be used again. There are numerous social institutions that would be very happy with used clothing. This form of donations should be stimulated more. Worn clothes still contain fibres that could be re-used in the production of new materials.
One alternative for choosing, say a new pair of trousers, is looking for durable fibres, fibres that have a higher wear-and-tear resistance than the fibres now commonly used. One of those fibres is the Cannabis, or rather hemp plant.
Intensive agriculture should be transformed into extensive agriculture and agriculture should be on a smaller scale with mixed produce as opposed to monoculture. Research has shown that cattle farms which have greater biodiversity have the advantage when confronted with a disease in the livestock.
Nature and scenery are the surroundings of man and is indispensable for the survival of all living things. Small natural cycles, the various cycles of life, make up the big cycle of Nature and that is why it’s desirable to connect every level within these cycles. A maximum biodiversity is needed. It is important for a firm natural balance. The opposite of this is the desire for maximum profit. This leads to soil exhaustion and interrupts various natural cycles.
Green, especially trees, have the highest yield as converters of solar energy to stored energy. A greater biodiversity can be reached by planting primary forests. This form of forestry leaves more possibilities for the storage of big quantities of energy than planted wood fields, production woods.
The most important and most expensive raw material is water. It takes a huge amount of energy to desalinate seawater for use as drinking water. The sun supplies drinking water by means of clouds, prevent acid rain by avoiding exhaust gases! We must not extract more clean water from the soil than the amount of clean rainwater that goes into it. Agriculture and heavy industry often waste enormous amounts of water, and this becomes apparent in the price of their products. They also have to provide purification for the water they use. Consumers can contribute by recycling water used for the shower to flush the toilet using a secondary water circuit.
To implement all the local themes dealt with so far on a global plan, we must strive towards local economic regions that exchange products on a small scale amongst themselves. The environment should be the starting point for the set up of this economic infrastructure and not as final goal. The continuation of large scale exchange between globally aimed structures (multi national companies) should be reduced. This implies a reduction in then world wide transport where similar products are flown back and forth in the guise of economic progress. Unnecessary transport of goods and people is a pure waste of energy.
So here a complete chapter from the Enschede Vision. Now you know where we’re going. It’s our goal to really implement all these principles. The question remains: How?
The remainder of this book is about looking for a way to implement this vision. We still have a long way to go. We came to the conclusion that it’s a matter of “making the impossible possible” and not so much a matter of making all the necessary changes ourselves. In the end people have to do it themselves.
The next point on the agenda after Vision is Strategy. How do we come to a good and useful strategy? I needed to follow a few more courses at University first.