Mayor of “greenest city in America” discusses renewable energy in Calgary

Greensburg, Kansas, Watertower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Greensburg, Kansas, Watertower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Calgary – The mayor of the “greenest city in America” and the director of Stanford University’s Atmosphere/Energy program will be at the University of Calgary this week for two events on the importance of renewable energy.

On December 5, Bob Dixson, mayor of Greensburg, Kansas (a town leveled by a massive tornado in 2007), will present at the Distinguished Speakers on Campus about how his hometown rebuilt and now generates all its electricity from wind power.

The following day, Dixson will be one of two speakers at a free public forum called Transitioning to 100% Renewable Energy. Dixson will be joined by Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. Together they will answer the questions: “Is 100 per cent use of renewable energy scientifically feasible?” and “Has it been achieved in any communities to date?”

“I don’t think we’ve adequately explored renewable energy and this is an opportunity to heighten people’s consciousness about the alternatives, and to begin to influence public policy,” says Forum Director Mishka Lysack. “Some of the world’s best solar levels and intensity, and wind energy, are in Calgary and Southern Alberta.”

Lysack, a University of Calgary social work professor focusing upon community and social well-being, has studied renewable energy in Germany, where the goal is to obtain 80 to 100 percent of all electricity from renewable sources by the year 2050.

“This is the first forum in a series looking at renewable energy from many different perspectives over the next one-and-a-half years,” said Lysack. “We hope to hold three forums before the summer.”

Jacobson will discuss the scientific and technological feasibility of using 100 percent renewable energy. He will explain how a renewable energy system can create more jobs, increase government revenues and reduce the human and financial health costs of air pollution and climate change. Jacobson has testified before the U.S. Congress, and written two textbooks, many articles and a landmark study on transitioning New York State to entirely renewable energy.

Dixson was a leader in post-tornado rebuilding efforts in his community designed to make it the “greenest city in America.” Greensburg uses only wind power for its electricity needs. Dixson will discuss the rebuilding and public-engagement process.

The conference is being sponsored by the Faculties of Social Work, Science, Arts, and Environmental Design; the Office of the Vice-President Research; and the Urban Alliance. It is funded in part by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.