I was very pleased to see Gary Cuneen’s guest article on greening our village. I like all of his ideas. I think there is nothing more urgent for our future than trying to cut CO2 emissions, which are already at a crisis level.
1) He urges additional financial incentives for Oak Park residents to use photovoltaic and geothermal systems. Yes, by all means. But also let’s offer free or subsidized home energy audits to point out to people how they can save energy with insulation and other means. This was done nationally in the 1970s. Cambridge, Mass., another town nestled next to a big city, announced a plan this month to give free audits and arrange loans for people to make improvements, paying off the loans with the savings. This gets individuals involved in fighting global warming while saving money. A small investment from the village can produce big efforts–and big results–from individuals.
2) Chicago is giving away thousands of compact fluorescent bulbs as a jump-start to get people saving electricity. Why can’t Oak Park do the same?
3) Village President David Pope told me he was interested in arranging community geothermal, where several houses on one block could use heat and cooling from one well. This would take active help from the village. Let’s do it.
4) Let’s make it village policy to encourage people to install windmills, with reasonable precautions. Wind is the most economical alternative energy.
5) And if you want a really far-out idea, we could do what they’re doing in Takoma Park, Md.–another suburb nestled next to a big city (Washington). In Takoma Park, with the cooperation of town government, a cooperative buys and stores corn to burn for home heating. It’s much cheaper than fossil fuels, and much more economical and direct than turning corn into ethanol. If this sounds too screwy, look at the book, The Ravaging Tides, by Mike Tidwell, who initiated the scheme. Or look at websites like this one: http://www.hyattsvillewiki.com/page/Corn+Stove+Information.
Above all, let’s get going. It’s urgent. We don’t know everything, but we know enough to make a start, right now. We’ll refine what we do as we go along.
Doug Burke, Oak Park