Lessons from the Nye vs Begley Feud

I have been reading, and am almost finished with Bill Nye’s Unstoppabale (link to signed copy from Barnes & Noble). The book is a general overview of modern climate science and some of the options of dealing with it. Nye makes it no secret what his agenda is, so if you’re a climate change denier, or don’t believe it’s worth addressing, this may not be the book for you.

Some of the large scale ideas presented in the book are bizarre and impressive, such as massive concrete pistons raised by a water pump to hold energy in a potential state, to be recovered via gravity later. Wow. These devices would be used to store excess solar/wind energy near the production site for use later when they are not producing as well, making them the world’s most unconventional battery.

Large scale ideas aside, the part of the book I am finding most compelling is the telling of Nye’s “green feud” with his neighbor, Begley. I found these parts of the book hilarious and inspiring in equal measure. In general, Nye’s humor in the book is tasteful (though his incessant pointing out of puns gets a little grating).

Essentially when Nye moved into the neighborhood, he discovered that Begley was a hardcore conservationist, and had made many improvements/alterations to his house to further that agenda. Solar panels, solar water heating, ground water cistern, etc. Seeing these and the benefits they all offered, Nye felt compelled to “keep up with the Begleys”, leading to massive improvements in his own home.

I just love that. Competition for such a real and meaningful thing instead of who has the bigger better car or TV seems amazing. I have been similarly inspired to “keep up with the Begleys”.

We get a bi-monthly mailer from our gas/electric provider comparing our usages to similar nearby homes, presumably to engender this kind of competition, but it never moved me much in the past. Our house’s efficiency is middling, trending to high, but not “in the red”. I never worried over it much, as money isn’t a terribly large concern when it comes to a few (dozen?) dollars on the power bill.

I feel compelled now to change that attitude. Hearing Nye talk about how much fun he had making the changes and watching them work, as well as the savings and efficiencies realized, made it all seem much more visceral than a bar graph in a mailer. I’ll definitely be taking a look at what small changes can be made soon, and will be researching larger options like solar power installation. We get solid, unobstructed sunlight on an entire long facing of our roof, so I suspect they will be very effective.

So, I just wanted to share that I’ll soon also be trying to keep up with the Begleys (who I might add, Nye seems to far surpass in his telling). I’ll definitely be watching the mail with more interest to see how well I’m doing compared to my local Begley’s. Maybe I can inspire them to do the same.

Think Big. Act Big. Inspire Others. That’s a mantra I’m trying to adopt more in my own life. Thanks to @AstronautAbby for that.

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