Starting around the time of the American Revolution, new forms of energy fueled an industrial revolution, first in England,then in America and Europe. Previously, energy was based on biology and natural processes.
Human and animal energy (fueled by food from plants and animals) was assisted by burning wood and harnessing rivers and wind (for water pumping and sailing).
Newer energy forms were based primarily on fossil fuels from deep underground coal and coke for steam, then oil, gas and eventually uranium for electricity. Extracting and burning fossil fuels caused unprecedented contamination and poured enormous amounts of "greenhouse gases" (carbon dioxide and methane) into the atmosphere, causing the global climate change we are experiencing today.
What WEM Does
WEM invites women and men to become aware of how energy is currently produced and used - our homes, businesses, transportation & food system - to understand how it affects our lives.
WEM provides women-oriented information & encouragement for people who are working to remake the energy system in ways that will better serve & protect our families and communities & the environment.
WEM invites women especially to become involved in this project at any level, and provides assistance for women & men who undertake these efforts. Building an environmentally & socially-friendly energy system is rich with opportunities for personal enjoyment & learning, making new friends & building careers.
WEM starts with the basics helping women become aware of the many ways we encounter energy in our daily lives and make countless small & large energy decisions as we prepare food, raise children, manage our households, run errands, purchase products, perform outside jobs & maintain our communities.
WEM encourages members to learn more about energy, sponsor discussion groups, workshops & events and take action on energy issues in their local communities & the wider world.
WEM can help with networking & information to support these
WEM also provides historical information on how women have accomplished social change.
Hardly any women were involved in planning, building or operating industrial energy systems such as coal & uranium mines, oil & gas rigs, refineries, giant dams, power plants & transmission lines. Even today, few women are able to break into that club, or have even been tempted to try.
On the other hand, women all over the world have long been dealing with the mess the industrial energy system leaves behind cleaning up soot in our houses & clothes, nursing family members sickened by pollution & industrial accidents, & coping with personal & societal changes in moving from farms & villages to urban settings.
the first environmental organizationsincluded those created by women, focusing on cleaning up polluted cities & waterways & protecting forests & wildlife. Women also took the lead in providing education, hospitals and other services for people displaced from their homes by industrial agriculture & migrating to cities or other countries to find jobs to feed their families.
Women, Families & Food
To this day, many women grow food, as women have always done gardening & raising chickens, goats & other animals in sustainable, organic ways. Many of today's organic farmers are women, & women are actively involved in Farmers Markets as founders, sellers & customers and direct farm-to-home delivery.
Locally based agriculture & marketing will become increasingly important as rising fuel costs reduce the viability of the oil-dependent corporate food system.
Industrial agriculture depends on fossil fuel & electricity for big machinery, irrigation & animal confinement, & transporting food across great distances. Pesticides & fertilizer are also based primarily on natural gas.
Women & Markets
Anthropologists report that women probably created the first markets, however the Industrial Revolution brought forth the male-dominated "market economy" that blankets the globe in our day. Women are providing some of the most intelligent guidelines for sensible change.
Dr. Marilyn Waring economist, former Member of Parliament, & energy activist in New Zealand points out that the market purports to run the world, but ignores the unpaid work of women, people in "subsistence" economies (2/5 of global population), & Mother Nature.
The economic system itself promotes destruction — she notes that "the Exxon Valdez was the most profitable tanker voyage ever made."
Waring proposes ways to reframe the economic system, recognizing that it is only one part of a much larger picture. See video Who's Counting: Sex, Lies and Global Economics >>>
Donella Meadows explains how current industrial energy & market systems tend to overshoot planetary limitations. She also charts a path to bring our civilization into balance. Read "Beyond the Limits" & online archives of her writing. >>>
Central problem of Energy
Women's Energy Matters celebrates all the ways women have used their energy to address energy issues & clean up after the old energy system. WEM encourages women to carry on this work. WEM provides education about the centrality of energy in our lives & invites women to take leading roles in designing & building a better system one based on conservation & non-polluting renewable energy such as solar & wind.
If more of us concentrate on the central problem of energy, we may be able to solve many other problems which stem from the existing energy system air & water pollution; nuclear waste; urban sprawl; disconnected families; tasteless food with degraded nutritional value; & loss of jobs as corporations move overseas & ship back foreign-made products & food. We may even be able to begin to release the stranglehold of energy corporations over our economic & political life, & repair international relations damaged by the wars and other hurtful practices of first-world countries seeking to control foreign energy resources.