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An island without oil

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, now the worst in U.S. history, has refocused the nation’s attention on our addiction to carbon-based fuels. Congress has attempted to pass a comprehensive energy plan that would encourage the adoption of green technology, but little progress has been made.

Perhaps the island of Samso, population 4,000, could provide inspiration. The Danish island won a national contest in 1998 with an audacious bid to switch completely to renewable energy. And in just ten years, Samso achieved its goal. Residents now use wind, sun and even rapeseed oil to power their cars and homes.

John Larson traveled to Samso to find out how they succeeded, and how the U.S. might follow their lead.

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  • jo

    I want to live HERE!

  • Cynthia

    Awesome! I live on the Gulf Coast…We should make the same pledge and kick the oil habit. There is no down side to renewable energy: it’s about our security not being dependent on other nations; it’s about our dollars, keeping money in the USA and tourists (not oil) on the beach; it’s about the environment, watching our national heritage die on TV. We even make the windmill generators in Pensacola. Let’s make the Gulf like Samso (only warmer:)!!!

  • boredwell

    Ah, yes, if only Gavin Newsom, the mayor of my city, San Francisco, could see this! It seems a no-brainer to put some turbines on Twin Peaks and Bernal Hill along with solar panels. Twin Peaks and Bernal Hill are two of this city’s highest geographical features. Both are excellent conductors of wind plus their height would make great solar sponges. Could fennel, which grows wild here, substitute for rapeseed? Imagine! San Francisco smelling like licorice! Way to go Samso!

  • Zita

    We’ve got to get started. Once we do we’ll come up with new ideas just like the Danes thought to start burning their hay for hot water. On your mark, get set, go, America.

  • Joe Phelan

    Yea, sure and give me a break. It took a small island with 4000 people ten years to convert…amazing and by now their airports, railroads, military, freeways, factories and all that are running fine with just wind and solar…heck, they probably could not begin to match Al Gore’s carbon footprint to begin with…we really need to copy them.

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    After watching the documentary “CRUDE” on the Amazon’s Chernobyl ( I’m wondering why we haven’t seen comparisons to the BP Gulf catastrophe. Can cancer studies from that region be used to expedite the progress of their plight and the plight of those effected here in the US. This might help the courts and corporations decide the value of life.

    Secondly, as seen on PBS Need To Know, since farmers and the government in Samso Denmark erected windmills for energy on land and offshore, could we do the same with small farms here and possibly hurricane proof offshore windmills along the Gulf Coast.

    If Samso can become completely Carbon Neutral within a 10 year period, then certainly we could have an FDR style work program to rapidly expand the conversion process here in the USA.