What’s the Answer to a Sustainable Future? We Are.
T.H. Culhane, founder of the global nonprofit Solar C.³I.T.I.E.S., shares insights on sustainability’s future and the role we each can play.
For decades, T.H. Culhane has explored the power of sunshine. In light of all he’s learned, how does the future of sustainability look? Bright. If we wisely use what we already have, and recognize the crucial impact each individual can make.
“The future of sustainability will depend, as always, on the supreme importance of conservation and putting repurposing, reusing, reducing, and refusing to use” Culhane says. “But living on a planet with seven billion people churning out wastes actually gives us a great opportunity to transform this valuable raw material into unlimited clean energy.”
Culhane believes in starting with what we already have rather than looking for virgin supplies and resources. “Our quest needs to be harnessing and transforming ubiquitous, safe natural resources like sunlight more efficiently. I believe we can last for years and years recycling the materials of life in a closed cycle system.”
He’s already made it happen through his nonprofit’s global work with families, corporations, and governments—using biodigesters to transform embedded solar energy in organic waste from trash bins and landfills into clean, reliable fuel and fertilizer.
Forecasting the future of transportation, Culhane predicts that not only will electric and self-driving vehicles be key, but also renewable energy-powered roadways which generate much of the energy vehicles consume and DME (Di-Methyl Ether), a promising liquid energy source for internal combustion engines that can be also made from organic garbage that auto makers are exploring.
First and foremost, Culhane sees a crucial need to more accurately inform and engage all citizens, particularly children, about the technologies and concepts at the heart of sustainability. “Only when an empowered public understands the similarities and differences between different energy sources can we have an informed, positive dialogue about which ones to use, how and when to use them, and what to invest in for the future,” says Culhane.”
Culhane’s mission to raise public awareness stems from his belief that a sustainable future lies right at home and in neighborhoods. “Just as the tradition of ‘victory gardens’ helped see us through times of war, local communities can become centers of the sustainability movement moving into the future.”
“The question that needs to be asked is, ‘What can you do at home to close the loop, do the most with what you’ve got, and make your community as autonomous as possible?’ I believe that families and neighborhoods can take care of themselves by applying what we already know about microlivestock and home photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind, and biogas technologies, particularly small-scale biodigesters that convert organic wastes into new food through urban rooftop gardening, hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.” He is convinced that scaled-up and scaled-out versions of these technologies and others will allow entire communities and businesses to become self-sustaining.
Culhane draws his confidence from his own experience. “I have seen how easy it is to live completely off-grid using off-the-shelf and self-built technologies—in my own home I use self-installed and self-built photovoltaic electric systems, solar hot water heaters, small wind and hydro, biodigesters, tower gardens, and tilapia ponds.” For decades now he’s also already helped put these domestic energy sources into action for other families in cities, villages, and farms around the world.
“My personal experience inspires and equips me to explore larger-scale solutions. Not for a moment do I doubt that we can thrive in the coming decades. We have the technologies, and many are easy to apply at a local level. With an engaged public and socially responsible corporate partners, these solutions can be scaled up to power a sustainable future for us all.”
Heroes of sustainability like T.H. Culhane inspire all of us at Coors Light to continue our climb to create a more sustainable world. Learn more about our efforts and see how you can make a difference through our EveryOneCan recycling program at www.coorslight.com/article/sustainability-is-in-our-dna