(won’t solve our energy problems)
We convened in the cozy Hacienda Room for the first time in my short memory and found it just right for the turnout. Prez Gordon brought us to order and called on Aly Shoji from the head table for the Invocation. She nicely wove our Four Way Test into her invocation for us to follow vision, faith, and charity. John Heidt led us first in the Pledge of Allegiance and then in reciting the Four Way Test.
PP Eric Loberg surveyed the assembly and declared “not a pin missing,” though Lenny’s was in his hand. Eric then promptly broke his chaira little weight problem? His de facto attorney, PP Steve Scherer was quick to negotiate a measly $25 fine, settling for $7.50 as his fee (or penalty).
PP Don Nelson announced that the Western Party this coming Saturday has rounded up 64 buckaroos (and buckarettes), but there’s room in the corral for a few more. PP Peter More warned us that a band of 23 San Francisco Chinatown Rotarians will descend on us on October 28 and 29 to avenge our visit to their club earlier this year. Peter is confident he can charm these marauders at his home on the 29th and even invites WVRC members (space limited) at $30/head.
PP Mike Newman (Membership Chair) told everyone to grab a packet of WVRC brochures (What is Rotary?) as they leave today. Everyone is working for membership, and a brochure is worth a thousand words (and looks official, too).
Prez Gordon, lulled by all this good news, launched into a joke: A local saloon in Texas was expanding and the neighboring Baptist Church was upset. Just before construction was completed, lightning struck the building and destroyed it. The bar owner brought a lawsuit against the church for aiding and abetting this destruction, but the church claimed its innocence. The judge was amazed that a saloon owner believed that prayers are answered, yet an entire congregation denied it.
Sensing unrest after this story, Marcia Brous was quick to rise and introduce our speaker: Dr. Paul Bunje. After working for the EPA in Washington, he came to UCLA two years ago and is the executive director of the UCLA Center for Climate Change solutions. He came equipped with complicated powerpoint slides, but was quick to focus our attention on his critical assertions--#1Energy is the Solution. We gazed for just a moment at “Earthrise from Space” the famous Apollo 8 photo and poster for environmental causes.
Dr. Bunje spoke pragmatically now: all energy, including hydrocarbons, comes from the sun and we have to exploit the energy sources we have here on earth. What is the long-run effect of the 5 million barrel BP spill in the Gulf? Humbly, he admitted, much less than we thoughtso far. It seems that much of the oil has been harmlessly burnt, soaked up, and naturally dispersed in the huge body of water. Most of the fishing areas have been re-opened and sea food is being eaten. That’s not to say that many animals like oysters and shrimp which may concentrate the oil will remain harmless, but we’re just guessing about most of this. He later added that oil seeps naturally into the ocean in many spotslike Santa Barbaraand is not necessarily toxic, but that the BP spill involved the release of methane gas as well.
Dr. Bunje then brought out the “piece de resistance” slidesources and uses of energy on our planet. It was a little hard to follow, but I distinctly heard him state that of the energy we produce, we waste more energy than we actually put to use. This is a hopeful statement. Realistically speaking, with “renewable sources” at about 5% of total production (including hydro), we cannot do away with oil, coal, or natural gas anytime soon. He believes we are near the peak of traditional oil production today, but that unconventional sources such as Canadian tar sands, may allow us to increase production levels over the next few years. Fortunately, Canada is our biggest source of energy, with the less-stable Saudi Arabia coming in second.
Back to the wastehis comment is that we move around too much because of where we work and live. Commuting is a big waste of energy and probably the #1 stressor in our lives in Los Angeles. Contrary to popular belief, however, California has done a wonderful job of conservationour per capita use of energy has not risen since 1972. Also, our “green sector” has been a positive source of employment gains over that time.
Dr. Bunje then bashed us with the facts of CO2. Since 1860, concentrations in our atmosphere, though slight, have risen 45%, likely due to our greenhouse gas emissions. We all know this traps the heat and the heat has been increasing. North pole ice is at its lowest recorded level and the rising sea is causing havoc for atolls in the Pacific and more famously, for Venice. Since he’s from the Solutions Center, he kindly reported that there has been much progress with solar cells (non-silicon) and that the US will be building six new nuclear plants-the first in a very long time. All told, it was not too depressing and a very balanced big-picture look at the problem we have created on our planet.
As I walked out, I smugly told the Rotarian next to me that I bought a Prius last week.