A local church may be the last place you'd expect to learn more about how to save money on gas or buy an electric vehicle, but that's Friday night's entertainment at First Unitarian Church.

Long known for its social activism, the church's environmental ministry will host a new documentary film-screening and answer questions about fuel economy during "Kiss Your Gas Goodbye," aimed at helping anyone interested in moving beyond the current nail-biting Utahns experience at the gas pump.

Co-sponsored by the church, along with Utah Interfaith Power & Light and Post Carbon Salt Lake, organizers plan to "provide some eye-opening answers to these questions" and "discuss and describe our individual and collective transportation future."

The event begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the church, 569 S. 1300 East, with a display of electric vehicles. The documentary screening begins at 7.

Michael Mielke, who oversees Post Carbon Salt Lake, said the technology and concepts to be presented at the event are "revolutionary" because "we have the only electric vehicle in the West charged by solar power. ... If you actually have a car that can run on the interstate that is a normal kind of vehicle not using coal or gas and has absolutely no emissions, that's one of the only things that's going to get our air clean."

Mielke, a longtime environmental activist, will be at the event to discuss not only new ways of looking at individual and group transportation, but to present about 45 minutes of a new two-hour documentary film by Richard Heinberg.

He said those who believe the current fuel crisis can be solved by drilling for more oil fail to acknowledge three factors: that the oil supply is ultimately a limited one; that gas prices will ultimately drive individual consumers to find new technology; and that significant carbon reduction in the atmosphere is the only workable solution to global warming.

"We're toast unless we reduce fossil fuel," he said. In addition to soaring gas prices, "what other reason do you need" to find an alternative.

Mielke said he will lead discussions about solar and wind power for home energy consumption and other alternatives, answering questions about costs and technology.

Rather than waiting for government to figure out solutions, consumers must be the driving force, he said. "The heart of the matter is this: the answers to the crazy problems we face are out there, and people don't know them. The data has not been put out there. From my point of view, people get their information from sources who largely would rather keep their entrenched interests going."

In addition to having electric cars, motorcycles and bikes charged by solar power available for inspection, Mielke said those who attend will get information on where to buy them and how much they cost, and answers about reliability and power.

He said the event will be "as deep and honest as you can be" about transportation alternatives and the consequences of doing nothing. "Do-it-yourself stuff will be there. All these things have been developed by people in small shops. Many are inexpensive and you can get conversion kits."

The documentary features Heinberg, an environmental author and journalist, talking about a future in which fossil fuels are no longer viable and what type of societal changes may result. He advocates planning now for more self-sufficiency not only in transportation, but home heating and cooling as well as food production.

The church is also advocating a "walk to church" movement among its members in the Avenues and organizing a wintertime carpool schedule for those looking to further reduce carbon emissions.

For information on other local faith initiatives involving reduced energy consumption, see www.utahipl.org.


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