Sierra & Tierra: Worldwide Thirst for Clean Energy

How would you like having to bath yourself with the same water previously used by your family, or to purify sewage water to do your laundry or not being allowed to use more than 13 gallons of water a day?

 These and many other extreme measures had to be put in place in Cape Town, South Africa, to avoid literally running out of water. Because of the worst drought in its history, one of Africa’s most beautiful cities was about to turn off the tap for its 4 million inhabitants and feared that dreaded Day Zero would come sometime in mid-April. Fortunately, at least for the foreseeable future, the authorities’ determination and its inhabitants’ discipline averted such a catastrophe. Yet the drought continues unabated.

Don’t think you are immune to such an ordeal, because many megacities around the world are at risk of running out of water as well, including Los Angeles, Mexico City, London, and Tokyo. And the common denominator that intensifies these shortages is the climate crisis, fundamentally unleashed by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and fracked gas.

Phoenix, Arizona—considered the planet’s least sustainable city—is a serious candidate to become our own Cape Town. With a yearly average of less than eight inches of rain, most of its water supply comes from Lake Meade, 300 miles to the northwest. And despite being one of the country’s worst cases of urban sprawl and situated in the middle of a desert, Phoenix lacks any water-saving plans. According to the federal government, the city will go through droughts lasting five years or more every decade in the next 50 years.

The planet is giving us serious warnings that we must change course and drastically reduce our greenhouse emissions. And this is exactly what more than 50 U.S. cities are doing by committing themselves to obtain 100 percent of their energy from clean and renewable sources, such as sun and wind. These include cities with high Latino populations, such as San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose, in California; Atlanta; and Orlando. Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest city, has already taken its first steps toward this clean and renewable commitment.

This revolution is succeeding regardless of the Trump administration’s favoring the dying dirty energy industry. FirstEnergy Solutions, one of the country’s largest utilities, pleaded with the administration to get a subsidy in order to avoid bankruptcy and to continue operating its obsolete coal and nuclear plants, which cannot compete with cheaper, more-efficient, clean energy sources. The dirty energy industry is grinding to a halt across the country in states such as Texas, California, Arizona, Washington, and Wyoming.

The public also favors this clean revolution. A recent Sierra Club survey conducted in five states showed firm support—especially among Latinos—for providing 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

Seventy-nine percent of Latino voters across these five states combined support their state setting a goal to generate 100 percent of their electricity with clean, renewable energy by 2030. Seventy percent of Latinos across these five states say they would be more favorable toward an elected official who supports setting a statewide goal of 100% clean, renewable energy. And two thirds of Latino voters (66 percent) say that this goal is “realistic.”

It’s just one more example of a worldwide thirst for clean and renewable energy that will protect the planet for future generations.

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