Dr. Peter Schwartzman shared his optimistic view of a future without fossil fueled energy as the keynote speaker at Western Illinois University's 9th annual Environmental Summit.
He said local activism is contributing to the popularity of renewable energy alternatives.
He said, “There are opportunities all around us. We have roofs that don't have solar panels. We have fields of growing food that could easily take on a wind turbine with marginal loss of production.”
Schwartzman said the use of wind energy around the world has grown 28% per year for the last 16 years. He called that a “phenomenal number” since the period includes two economic slowdowns.
He also said use of solar energy has gone up 39% worldwide in the last decade.
Using the state of Illinois as an example, Schwartzman estimates the state's potential for electricity from wind turbines is five times its annual energy consumption.
Schwartzman, who is chair of the environmental studies program at Knox College, said it's also important to lives a sustainable lifestyle. He suggested students work for a campus where cars are less necessary.
He said, “If we want bikes and bike lanes throughout the campus so cars are not interfering so that pedestrians walking are not interfering. Let's say that and be proud of it and find out what it costs and find out how we get it done.”
He also suggested students get involved in Community Supported Agriculture by buying food locally and growing some of their own food.
Schwartzman said many communities, such as Macomb, offer a variety of opportunities from a farmers market to community gardens.