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energy efficiency

Jan. 8 was a sweet day in Florida, and I’m not talking about the weather.

On that day, the state's Public Service Commission voted for a new energy mandate: the state will get 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources—wind, solar, hydropower, or biomass—by 2020.

"We want to be a leader in this country in solar and wind," Public Service Commission Chairman Matthew Carter said. "We want to establish a dynamic and vibrant marketplace."

I just finished a year-long appointment on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change. We released a blueprint that, if put into action, would make Florida one of America's most aggressive states in tackling climate change.

We studied the gamut: alternative energy sources, vehicle emissions, landfill gases, forestry practices, building construction, electricity demand you name it.

The result is an ambitious set of reforms which we believe would cut Florida's greenhouse gasses 34 percent by 2025.

As the average price of a gallon of gas tops $4 for the first time this week, TV pundits are having a field day. There's nothing like bad economic news that everyone can understand to bring out the blather.

First we had the skeptics, the nay-sayers, who denied that the climate is heating up, or, if it is, it's natural and not our fault. Rush Limbaugh still spouts this line, as does Senator Jim Inhofe, but their ranks are dwindling, have in fact dwindled to insignificance.

I've never been quite sure what 'a perfect storm' means (didn't see the movie), but it seems to mean a situation where everything gangs up on you. If so, we seem to be already in perfect storm territory in the building competition between hungry people and thirsty vehicles for corn and other grains.

We are strictly nonpartisan and apolitical here at Tom's Turn, so we will be naming no names today.

Let's put it this way. Two powerful and influential figures with overweening political ambition have suggested that the federal government should suspend federal gasoline taxes between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year to provide some relief to people suffering from soaring prices.

Bill McKibben is on a crusade. He wants to pound the number 350 into the heads of everyone on the planet, including yours.

Three fifty is the amount of carbon in parts per million that the atmosphere can handle safely without warming up and melting glaciers, raising the sea level, bringing on killer storms, destroying wildlife habitat, and all the other horrors that pop like mushrooms from your morning paper nearly every day.

Three fifty. Remember it.

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