Conservation is a variant on the old adage, “waste not, want not,” an attitude I had drilled into me during my youth on the farm in north central Illinois. Decades later at Stone Edge Farm, we strictly adhere to that maxim.
When you dine on produce grown at the farm with a glass of our Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll become persuaded of the high quality we’ve achieved. Our organically grown vegetables and wines speak for themselves. On the other hand, many of our conservation efforts are below the surface, but not the highly visible MicroGrid that meets more than 100 percent of the farm’s requirements for clean, economical energy.
The solar flux from the sun is the source of all earth’s energy, whether consumed in real time or, as we do at the farm, stored in batteries or as hydrogen for use when the sun is not shining. Fossil fuels are ancient stores of the sun’s energy, but are most undesirable because extracting their energy results in dire consequences from the greenhouse gas, CO2, that is lost to the atmosphere. We find storing the sun’s bounty in batteries or as hydrogen to be far better -- indeed, very far better -- not only environmentally, but also because the marginal cost of using our energy is zero, with no adverse side effects.
Conservation critically needs to focus on the energy-water nexus that drives all life on earth. Ironically, both ingredients are superabundant, but not always available at the desired place and time in the needed form and quantity. Compared to energy, fresh water conservation is easy. Oxidation of fossil fuels results in estranged atmospheric CO2 that we now know is creating global warming. After 150 years of burning ever-greater quantities of fossil fuels, we must rapidly shift our energy sourcing to renewables. Concurrently, we must also remove 100 ppm of CO2 dumped into the atmosphere since the mid-19th century if life on earth is to continue in the rich abundance to which humans have grown accustomed.
Besides attitude, conservation is a matter of design, experimentation, and practice that manifests in perpetually improving technologies, importantly including energy sourcing and uses. Today, conservation must be embraced by one and all, immediately, for we can no longer defer that responsibility to the next generation! We are now suffering the consequences of our past failure to heed responsibility for energy conservation without damaging environmental waste. At Stone Edge Farm, we have solved the on-going clean energy problem, and done so economically with our MicroGrid.
Conservation is not just a way of life. It is the only way.