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Big Bend Regional Sierra Club Regular Public Meeting Dec 15, 2006

Minutes of Big Bend Regional Sierra Club, Oct. 18, 2007

"Our society has been built from cheap oil," Bennett Jones told the Big Bend Sierra Club at its October meeting, and some experts say we have already reached, or certainly will soon reach, the point at which one half of the world's petroleum supply has been used (Peak Oil). The second half of the petroleum reserves will be increasingly more expensive to acquire. Our society (post-Peak Oil) is, by definition, not sustainable. Jones talked about creating a society in which sustainability is the watchword. Sustainability, he explained, means becoming more self-reliant and more efficient, both as individuals and as communities.

A core group of residents in Willits, California, a community about the size of Alpine with a population of 5,098, signed onto the Sustainability ethic after having seen a film called "The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion & the Collapse of the American Dream." (for more information, see
http://www.willitseconomiclocalization.org) The community in Mendocino County decided to reduce its energy consumption by trying to produce its own food, its own energy (through solar and wind), and improve its shelter, health and social organization. Willits did an energy audit for the town, and discovered that it spent $30 million a year for energy, with 56 percent of that amount just for transportation.

Jones said he and his wife chose to come to Alpine, after 17 years of life on a sailboat, because they believe West Texas (with ample sun and wind) is perhaps the best area in the U.S. to achieve a self-reliant community that could provide its own energy locally. He has compiled an extensive library of books and pamphlets that explain how to achieve self-reliant communities, some of which are available at The Alpine Sustainability Project Library located in the One Way Plant Nursery.

Intermediate scale wind-powered generators, for example, could likely provide the electricity at local schools or at Sul Ross State University. And the advantage, he noted, is that children would grow up seeing that energy does not have to be imported, or dug from the ground, but is available from solar and wind.

He praised Don Dowdey's solar-heated water installation, and suggested that others inquire about such installations. The Big Bend area could also become more self-reliant if there were more economic diversification that branched out from an over-dependence on tourism, he added. Those interested may join in the activities of The Alpine Sustainability Project at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alpineproject/