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Twyla Dell
Episode 318th November 2020 • Dead America • Ed Watters
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Every day we wake, we make a choice, we take the time to decide how we will approach the world. But I wonder, how far do we take our thought about how we impact the world? Not many people inspire us to have great thoughts and meaningful conversations on how to change the impact that we have on our world like Dr. Twyla Dell.

 I have been one, that looked at the issue of climate change as most of us do, “What can I do?” As I looked deeper into this issue, I found that we can do a lot to help save many facets of our world through small changes that we can make in our own lives. All it takes is for us to care! Small things like watching how much we drive and what we drive for. Dr. Twyla Dell helps us understand more about the use of gasoline in our lives. We had a great talk with Dr.Dell about her new book “Fueling Change” 

the use of gasoline in our lives has become overwhelming and we must look for new ways to help combat this epidemic of gasoline.

I had a great time during this interview and we will be asking Dr.Dell back on for another talk about her upcoming book. Enjoy this great interview and help spread the word about the work of Dr.Dell.

Twyla Dell is a Kansas City author, an environmental leader, and a fuel transition historian. Having written five environmental books, she is podcasting and blogging on reducing gasoline use. Visit to see all of her blogs. Transitioning from gasoline to sustainable energy and Kansas City history are her passions. She worked for the EPA and offered The Environmental Leadership Program for business leaders, teachers, and students in Kansas City, Missouri.

Twyla is an experienced speaker. She graduated from Antioch University Graduate School, with a Ph.D. in environmental studies in 2009.

Available for speaking engagements, webinars and is a seasoned podcast guest. Twyla may be reached at Contact Dr.Dell

“We are one fuel away” Twyla Dell Ph.D.Transcript Download

Twyla Dell

Tue, 10/27 8:20PM • 34:32


gasoline, fuel, age, dell, oil, people, twyla, wood, pounds, book, melts, planet, miles, life, created, years, 20th century, climate change, world, coal


Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D., Ed Watters

Ed Watters 00:06

Back when I was younger, I was pretty carefree. I didn't think a lot about much. Nowadays, it's different. Our world is a very precious commodity. I think about a lot. And we need to stand together to protect this precious body we call the earth. Today I sat down with Dr. Twyla Dell, PhD. Twyla worked for the EPA. And she's got a lot of knowledge, extensive background on our environment and fuels. She wrote a book titled fueling change. And that's what we talked to Dr. Dell about today. Every time I get in to my vehicle, I have to think, what am I going to do with the trip that I make today? I live 50 miles outside of Klamath Falls, Oregon. So it's 100 miles round trip, for me to go to the store and do my grocery shopping. It kind of forces me to focus on my needs a little bit more. We talk about that today with Dr. Dell. And it's a fascinating journey that she writes about in her book, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. The history involved within this writing is spectacular. I can't wait for you to read Dr. Dell's book, fueling change. Let's not waste any more time and get into this excellent interview with Dr. Twyla Dell. To overcome, you must educate. Educate not only yourself, but educate anyone seeking to learn. We are all Dead America. We can all learn something. To learn. We must challenge what we already understand. The way we do that is through conversation. Sometimes we have conversations with others. However, some of the best conversations happen with ourselves. Reach Out and challenge yourself. Let's dive in and learn something right now. Today we have a special treat for you. We have Dr. Twyla Dell with us. She is the author of fueling change. Twyla, would you please introduce yourself and let people know your background and what you do?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 03:28

Hi, Ed, I'd be glad to I am the author of fueling change how we created climate change one fuel at a time. It's my eighth book. I've been an environmental educator since 1990. Back in 1990, I thought we could save the world by stopping burning the rainforests which if you were in the know, back then that's what we were all wringing our hands over. And by the way, 30 years later, we're still burning the rain forest. And there's still about half of it left. So you have some idea how very vast it was over that time I have spent going to graduate school getting a PhD in Environmental Studies at Antioch University Keene New Hampshire, and writing this book about Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, which I live next to as an untold story, a revelation of how we created climate change one fuel at a time by going through the last of the wood age, which happened to be right on the shores of the Western Missouri in 1820s. We had spent a we, humanity and spent a million years going through the wood age learning how to be human how to organize ourselves how to create laws and religion and cities. I mean, it was a long trek, all using wood as fuel. That's why we call it the wood age and then right as Kansas City was being born. That was the end of the wood age because we went into the coal age. And we started that on the east coast of America. There are many reasons for that. And we can get into that. And we went into the coal age, which gave us railroads, we badly needed them. And not too far into the coal age, we acquired oil, we'd never had a liquid fuel didn't know what to do with it, but learned how fast. So suddenly, after a million years of having one fuel, we had three fuels, wood coal and oil and then out of oil came gasoline. And we went into the 20th century, with gasoline as the star of the oil age. And we have enjoyed Oh my god, how we have enjoyed gasoline. At the same time, there's been a very heavy effect of using gasoline, not the least of which is the slaughter of billions of animals and millions of people and the architecture of the 20th century, being laid out to support cars, in suburbia, and all of that. And now we come to the beginning of the 21st century. And we have to give up gasoline in order to move on into the next fuel, which is the solar age.

Ed Watters 06:29

So what made you take the path in life that brought you to helping fight climate change.

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 06:37

I started in my childhood actually get coming, becoming very intimate with a piece of real estate in Oregon, where I spent my grade school year, it was just a Fairyland of primeval forest, and Lake cabin. All through my elementary school years, I became very close to that very primal. And that became my background. I didn't, there were no words to describe it. I didn't even know the word environment until I heard it in my late high school years, but that gave me an intimate feeling of a, an ecosystem working and, and renewing itself every year. And eventually, I ended up going to work for the Environmental Protection Agency. And it was a surprise to me to realize that we had so many laws protecting so many different parts of our environment, from water to air, to soil. And actually, that was the three parts of the planet water, air, and soil. That's what the planet is, that's who we are. And our bodies represent that Trinity, just the same as the soil being the body, the water being the circulatory system, and the air being what we breathe, to stay alive. So we are miniature representatives of the planet itself. So what we do to the planet we ultimately do to ourselves. And after I left the Environmental Protection Agency, I created a an Environmental Leadership Program, a two and a half day weekend retreat to train business and community leaders, teachers and students. And I trained about 1000 people over a six year period, I thought, by God, we're going to save the Earth, we're going to stop all this destruction. Each one of these students is going to go out and be a soldier. And for all I know they did, but it's just not simple. We need millions of soldiers to help transform our wasteful ways into sustainable ways. And that's what we're doing now. We're just at the beginning of that.

Ed Watters 08:59

That's excellent. So your book fueling change, How long did it take you to research and write this book?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 09:08

about six years, it's about 438 pages, and 100 and some illustrations, and it is a brand new thesis. As far as I know, no one else has traced a particular city and this would be a wonderful exercise for any of your audience members to do to take their city and look at it, by identifying this power, this force that is so big, we don't even know it's there. And that's called the fuel we use to create the kind of culture that we have. And that's my thesis, it's on the back of the book. But anyway, it says history is simpler than we think. It's all about fuel all the time. And that's what our ancestors learned over that long, long, long. progress toward becoming who we are today. It's all about fuel all the time. The more fuel you have, the more power you have. And America is the power on the world today because we have all that oil. And we have learned to create a civilization that not only serves us, but it police's the world and we have all of our trade alliances based on oil. It's a very intricate process and relationship. But that's who we are today. Because and when they say, Oh, the richest in the, in the world, we're richest nation in the world. Yes, because we have all this oil, it doesn't mean that all of our citizens have access to that kind of life support that they deserve to have because they live here. Those two things don't jive. And we're learning to realize that.

Ed Watters 10:53

So the wood age ending in the 1800s. It's replaced by the coal age, then in come the oil in the early 1900s, you say, by the 2020s, that we must stop use of gasoline and replace it with bicycles, electric cars, and electric highways. Could you talk us through this journey from the wood age into the transition needed towards the next step in fuels?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 11:30

Yeah, that's a very broad subject. But I need people to become familiar with the vocabulary of fuel, we need to bring fuel into the foreground of our lives instead of the invisible background where it lives now. So that's why in my book, The first hundred pages go through what it was like to live in the wood age, how we used water for transport and the herculean progress of human bodies against and current going down river, so that we had to push our boats up river, it was a very, very difficult thing. And then when steamboats came along, that was the beginning of the end for the wood age because we had an internal combustion Well, yeah, the external combustion engine, but we had the last moments of the wood age, we used wood as fuel and an engine. And that was a big moment, because we had an engine which was invented in England, to empty the coal mines of water so we could get to coal, which was our next fuel. If England hadn't run out of wood, we wouldn't have had the steam engine, but they scarcity always forces us to go on to the next fuel. So to get from the wood age to the solar age, you really need to look at the book thumbed through, let's just look at the pictures if nothing else. Look at the graph at the beginning, where you see the hundred percent use of wood fuel precipitously declines, as coal rises, and then oil rises. And this is the harmonic background to our lives. So now we get to the beginning of the solar age, we've always been in the solar age, but we're becoming conscious of using the solar power that is available to us to replace the very 20th century lifestyle that we've had. Yeah, bicycles. Yeah, solar panels. Yeah, zoom staying home. We're not very happy with that at the moment we're really are going to need to become much more comfortable with it. If you understand and global warming is not a belief, a belief like Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy it is not in that category. Those things you believe that aren't true. It is a scientific reality that the poles are melting and a host of other events are occurring and we need to reduce the load of carbon dioxide that we are putting into the air. That is the irrefutable to truth. The Poles are melting North Pole and South Pole. Even though I have snow on my lawn today. It's still melting. The sea levels rise when the ice melts. And this is the reason that there is so much panic about global warming because the sea levels are rising. you chase that upstream. That's because we have too much carbon dioxide in the air, which causes the atmosphere to warm, which melts the North Pole and the South Pole.

Ed Watters 14:54

So let's talk about the transition period we're in right now. This could take some time to fully transition into any type of fully supported energy or fuel structure. How can we make sure that we transition into a cleaner, safer fuel supply?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 15:16

it's a very complex process. Needless to say, we have a very mature oil age going on. And the big leader of that is gasoline. And I call it the sculptris of our ways and means because we've used gasoline to create our entire life structure. Here we are, here I am in suburbia laid out by gasoline. So we don't have the luxury of the 30 years that a lot of people predict. Because the temperature is rising too fast for us to just lackadaisically move in that direction. We are at shamefully, one and a half percent of electric cars on the road today, I'm just talking about America, one and a half percent. In order to get to the solar age, we have to be 50%. How do we do that? Well, you have to do that very quickly. And we need to purchase. First of all, let your pocketbook vote with your credit card and buy electric. If you don't want to buy electric and you can't or you're not ready to then look at the very measurable This is so important, the very measurable process of cutting back on gasoline. Every gallon of gasoline, we burn leaves behind 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. And you go, What!? Who says that? Well, it's true Energy Information Agency and the EPA have both measured this and various other scientific agencies, that a gallon of gasoline when burned, leaves behind 20 pounds of co2, you don't see that coming out of your pipe. tailpipe because the particulates are very fine. But that's what happens. So you buy a tank of gasoline, say 15 gallons, each one of those burns 20 pounds. So 20 times 15, that's 300 pounds of carbon dioxide you are going to leave behind for every tank of gasoline. Suppose you burn a tank of gasoline a week, 15 gallons, you know, 300 pounds times 52. That's 15,000 pounds? Really? Is that what you want to be doing? If you had seen that piece of information, when you bought the car, you know you're in the show room spotlights on this gorgeous vehicle. And by any stretch, it is a gorgeous piece of engineering. You have the sticker on the left rear window. And it tells you EPA says this, and some other scientific agency says that and you're going to pay this amount and you go, Gulp, that's going to be 25 hundred dollars worth of gasoline. And of course I'm going to pay it because this is how we live. And you're going to get so many miles to the gallon. And this is the EPA standards. But does it say anywhere on there? Oh, by the way, for every gallon of gasoline you burn through this vehicle, you're gonna leave behind 20 pounds of carbon dioxide? No, it doesn't say that. If it did, you'd say, wait a minute, wait a minute. I don't want to do that. How do I drive without doing that? That's the big question. The phases is now you have to go to a hybrid, you have to go to an electric, you walk, you stay home and zoom. These are our alternatives. That's the way we have to go. And we have to push that very quickly. In the next five years, we go from one and a half percent of electric cars to say 10% by next year to 25%. By the following year, you understand me? This is a major revolution that lies ahead of us. And it has to be pushed by knowledgeable consumers. And that is what our future looks like or not. If you don't wish to do that you stay in the 20th century where we are now. Because as long as fossil fuel driving cars are running around, we haven't entered the 21st century.

Ed Watters 19:47

Yeah, that's a good sagway point. Climate change needs to be a more serious conversation for sure. I feel that it's become hyper sensitized and politicized. Why do you feel this has become the norm?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 20:03

What is it?

Ed Watters 20:07

 Just the hypersensitivity and the politicizing of the climate change needs.

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 20:14

change is hard. Change is very hard. And we certainly have that being acted out in our political drama right now. Yet, we have to face very stark choices in this regard. You have to realize, if you don't want to reduce your driving, as and I asked, I have a I have a workbook out called the gasoline diet, drive less Lose Pounds save the planet. Does this tank of gasoline make me look fat? Yes, it does. either walk it with your fingers or walk it with your feet. Yeah, this tank of gasoline makes me look fat unless I move to a new idea. And we have to move there whether we want to or not. When the planet warms up, and the ice in the Arctic melts to the point that it is no longer cooling the planet. That is a very different place to live, and you will not like it. And your kids will say, what the heck, why didn't they do this? Well, they didn't like change. Well, isn't that too bad? It's going to happen to you, it's not going to run down the generations to your grandkids. So that's the hard truth, and best to embrace it and be the edge of change rather than the actionary minority with their heels dug in going Hell no, I won't go. It's really a very simple choice, ultimately, going into the 21st century. And as fast as we can say, 10% electric cars a year. That's 10 years 15% of electric cars a year mixed with zoom and other elements. bicycles. Yeah, it's going to be an interesting mess. But that's what change is. We get to the other side, we'll let go some of those things that served us in the interim. How exciting to be in charge of changing the planet.

Ed Watters 22:24

Yeah, that's a good point right there. You know, we we have to act, we have to take action. And if we don't take action these are choices, things don't change. What is your thought on how we live in our modern world? Should we stop building Major metropolitans and go back to the family farms?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 22:48

Well, you know what we have lost in the way of understanding of the agricultural life it was one hell of a hard life hellishly hard to grow a crop out of a field of dried dirt. And as soon as fertilizers came along, that released the agricultural revolution, and then all of those post war tanks turned into massive agricultural tractor machines, and we had the agricultural revolutions. If we remove that we're back to a field of hard dirt. And so we don't want to merrily dismiss what we have learned in order to go back to absolute backbreaking work of farming without some kind of mechanized fuel driven vehicles, you understand that? We have ferret very carefully figure that out. But ultimately, we become more village oriented, we have fewer miles to travel to get where we're going. We've already discovered that so many of us can work from home. There is a huge office building just being built a few blocks from me, it is just one of those glassy environmental cubes. I have no idea who is going to occupy it, but I can say it is absolutely obsolete before it opens its doors. And I don't know if the builders of that are keeping that truth from themselves and complete denial, or they expect 500 people to drive in there and park and physically go in and fill those offices. What's your guess?

Ed Watters 24:30

I think we have a big problem. And the more oils fuels and you know, it gets really compounded when we talk about fuels and you know, oils because we have mining that goes on for our ores and our oils. And then we have all of these other industries that are focused on Bringing oil and fuels to the table. So I think we have to find this proper medium to balance our ecosystem where we're not like strip mining and doing devastation to our world. And there's obvious problems with emissions going into our atmosphere. The EPA has done strides on this, you know, back in the 70s, when they started really looking into this hard in changing the fuels, and the smokestacks, they've been changing how emissions are being put in. It's a very fine line. And I think we really need to lighten the load on our metropolitan areas, and bring more people outward into the rural areas, and learn how to be less dependent on the ease of living that we have created. So yes, like you stated, there's this tremendous workload. on a farm. I live on a farm, I maintain a little farm here. You know what I mean then, It's a 100 miles, Yeah, it's a 100 miles for me to go to the store and back round trip. Wow. So when I make a trip, I really plan I really make sure I'm going to use that trip wisely. We need more people doing that. It's not easy. It's not easy at all. Another thing, I think, is the trash issues. I listened to a few podcasts that you've been on. And you talk a little bit about this recycling. I think we need to really get grips on our plastic uses, and what we throw away how we really live life really needs to be uncovered and reworked again. So that's my thought on that Twyla. Yeah. So after all said and done about the fuel dependency, we still have this major problem with the manufacturing and mining of the ores needed to produce whatever fuel or our hungry lives depend on. How do we spread the message of slowing our need for such harmful things in our world?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 27:54

Yeah, well, you have to start by stopping burning as much gasoline as you can, because that is the fire that's raging. And so we have to put that down to a smolder. In order to save the actual atmosphere of the planet. That's the essence of global warming it there is a pandemic going on, in on the planet before the pandemic of covid ever came along. And that is the bio geo whatever, whatever pandemic of loss of ecosystem, loss of life, loss of complexity, etc, that we have created in a cascade of, of damages that we have allowed to ripple out. So how do you stop that? How do you reverse it, it's very complex, but just understand that fuel drives our lives every minute. Anybody who's listening to this is surrounded by fuel created wires and processes and things. You know, you I'm sitting in a plethora of things brought to me by the oil age and the gasoline age, somehow we have to back off from that as we want to keep what the the benefits and reduce the harm. And we need to do that in short order, in order to keep the beautiful planet that we have. And you know, that's that's a big subject for a lot more talk. But first of all, we have to become aware of it like you are, you're very carefully using your gasoline. And for us in suburbia, for instance, I go to the grocery store, it's about a mile away. Oh by the way, if you break down the 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, it's about a mile. It's about a pound a mile. So if you go into town, it's 100 pounds in 100 pounds back and that is probably not something you want to hear that's why you are carefully organizing your trip. So I go up to the grocery store, that's a pound of carbon dioxide to get to the grocery store, we have to see it at this level, then it's a pound back, I take my dogs in to be groomed, that's a pound over there and a pound back, I go to see my friend, that's a pound over and a pound back, I go to the doctor's office, she's seven miles away, that's seven pounds over seven pounds back, you see what I'm talking about? This is what we do, yes, we do this all day, every day. Or if you go to work, maybe it's a 25 mile round trip five days a week, that begins to really add up and then all of your other workers are also doing that much. So in order to fill that building I just described, that's how many thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide do those people leave behind in order to drive to that building to get to their jobs and do whatever it is they're going to do. That's the wonderful thing about gasoline, you can measure it down to the pound down to the mile. And that's what the gasoline diet does, as well as fueling change how we created climate change one fuel at a time. Just understand that every breath you take, every move you make is backed up by fuel to support our very 20th century life.

Ed Watters 31:26

Yes, and fuel comes in many ways. You know, we talk a lot about, right, yes, you know, and we talk about the fuel we all know about, like gasoline, coal, wood, but the fuel and energy of the human being and the beast of burden in the field. Yeah, that built us up to this point where we demand this convenience, this ease. So there's a lot of work to be done Twyla. And you've taken on on a lot on your journey, I do respect that that's a burden. I don't.

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 32:11

Well, the point of my spear is gasoline, and that's very simple. Take your car keys in your hand. And before you go jumping into your vehicle to do some fairly frivolous trip, realize you can either do it or not based on your realization and your inventiveness. Maybe you delay it, or you combine it or you decide not to do it. You have to start realizing Okay, I'm going over to do so and so, that's 10 miles away, that's 10 pounds, got to come back, that's another 10 pounds, get into that frame of mind and then we begin to change what we have to do.

Ed Watters 32:53

That's right. So how can people get ahold of you and connect and get involved with what you're doing?

Dr. Twyla Dell Ph.D. 33:00

Thank you, well, you can get the and that is how fueling change how we created climate change one fuel at a time. They can find me at how we can stop climate now dot com, how we can stop climate change now dot com and where I have about 45 blogs. I've taken a leave of absence from blogging because of COVID and the personal tragedies of my own particular situation. I'm about to start blogging again. And find me just Google Twyla Dell, I have four different websites you will certainly find me there.

Ed Watters 33:47

amazing woman, Twyla Dell, we thank you for being with us here on Dead America. And enjoy your day. Thank you. Bye. Thank you for joining us today. If you found this podcast enlightening, entertaining, educational in any way. Please Share, Like subscribe, and join us right back here next week for another great episode of Dead America podcast. I'm Ed Watters your host Enjoy your afternoon wherever you may be