Scott Sklar

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Burning the Future

In Burning the Future: Coal in America, writer/director David Novack examines the explosive forces that have set in motion a groundswell of conflict between the coal industry and residents of West Virginia.

Burning The Future: Coal in America
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Many supporters of clean energy don't have the facts at hand to convey the attributes and opportunities about clean energy - or they receive information from a narrow segment of interests. While the broad commentaries focus on global and national policies and markets from 60,000 feet, they are practical aggregations of information in an easy-to-understand format.

December 19, 2007
On Friday, October 13th, the Nobel Prize was awarded to Muhammed Yunus, who founded the Grameen Bank and was the modern pioneer to microlending. Over the last 30 years, Mr. Yunus both personally and then thru his “peoples’ Bank” has given over 80,000 loans from $12 - $200 (US) to the poorest people in the world. He was, of course, ridiculed by many at the start – but the loans were and are being repaid and peoples’ lives have irrevocably been changed for the better.

Most of the population growth is taking place in developing countries. In 2005, world population growth was at 1.2% with an average of 1.5% for developing countries and 0.1% for developed nations. By 2025, there will be another 1.9 billion people or 7.9 billion people in the world, some 6.7 billion will be in developing countries with 1.3 billion in developed nations. (http://www.population-awareness.net/)

Nearly, 1.2 billion people are estimated to still live on less than $1 per day, and almost 3 billion on less than $2 per day. 110 million primary school age children are out of school, 60 percent of them girls.( http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/oda/poverty/report007.html)

More than 500 million people worldwide currently do not have have enough clean water to drink. By the year 2025, up to 3 billion people may be living in water-scarce conditions (ttp://www.sierraclub.org/population/factsheets/families.asp),

Last year, more than 100 million people received small loans from more than 3,100 institutions in 130 countries according to the Microlending Summit of Washington, DC.

In our clean energy world, non-profit Enersol and it’s profit-making counterpart Soluz have been leading the way in microlending for the poor starting in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras among others. Richard Hansen, Soluz’s founder, made clear in their July 2006 released co-authored study, “Innovation in Rural Energy Delivery”, that key elements are consumer finance, enterprise finance, and innovative funding.

They have been followed by Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) in Western Africa focusing first on household energy systems, and winning the World Bank-sponsored Development Marketplace 2006 Competition. In 2006, SELF will attempt to bring solar power to 44 villages in Benin including solar water pumping and drip irrigation.

Beyond microlending, clean energy non-profits have been assisting small businesses to become business-ready and capitalized, and then assisting in the financin of their customers. E&Co has pioneered working with small business energy start-ups in Latin America, Africa and Asia focusing on clean energy small and medium enterprises. They established CAREC, a mid-to-long term financing entity of projects and companies in Latin America. The Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund  (S3dif), a non-profit, has focused on clean energy projects and businesses helping the poorest of the poor in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, S3dif has over 35 + financially viable investments ranging from lighting in shops, agriculture and industrial processes to innovative financial instruments for energy for the poor. Russell DeLucia, a former energy analyst for the multilateral banks and founder of S3dif, has plowed his own funds and leveraged foundations and just ‘good hearted’ investors into his non-profit enterprise.

The bottom line is that energy is necessary for clean water, education, healthcare and growth of sustainable businesses. Developing countries relying on energy imports to fuel growth is an illusion. Mr. Yunus’s foundation-laying work, followed by the vision and sweat of the clean energy non-profits, is showing results. I am still amazed as to why the larger corporations and even more players in the philanthropic community aren’t embracing these non=profit efforts more substantively.

The New York Times quoted Mr Yunus, “If you can make so many people so happy with such a small amount of money, why shouldn’t you do more of it?” Indeed, and if through that, the two billion people without electricity and clean water, could get it without pollution and hazards to their health, without disruption or need for foreign exchange, I concur heartily with Mr. Yunus, “why shouldn’t we do more of it”.
Last Updated ( December 20, 2007 )
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Energy Star is the national program that rates appliances and promotes energy savings activities. Experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energy have also sorts of programs and tips. Here are three sites: