Actually, it’s long past time. Had the United States shown leadership when scientists first explained the consequences of climate change, when Al Gore released his Inconvenient Truth, we might have already recreated our economy, inspired other nations and generated millions of jobs. Instead, conservatives chose to politicize the issue to protect Bush/Cheney’s interests in Big Oil.
As a result, we’ve seen more than a decade of increased oil exploration; more than a decade of drilling, fracking, and tar sands mining; more than a decade of mountaintop removal to more cheaply mine coal; more than a decade of ice melt releasing methane; more than a decade of increasing corporate farming with its reliance on chemicals and animal confinement generating even more methane; and more than a decade of obstructing alternative fuel industries.
We’ve heard conservatives ridicule solar energy while China and Europe have captured the manufacture of photovoltaic cells. We’ve heard conservatives ridicule Cap and Trade legislation intended to reduce carbon emissions. Worse, we’ve heard conservatives throw tantrums over the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline which environmental scientists fear will amount to “game over” with regard to climate change.
Meanwhile, President Obama has been understandably quiet with regard to the issue. With Cap and Trade blocked in Congress, his administration has quietly gone about raising fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and trucks. The administration had created incentives and offered loans to help jumpstart alternative energy sources. And the EPA has created new standards for electric generation, causing many power plants to switch from coal to natural gas. All of these measures have reduced US carbon emissions 10 percent since 2005.
That’s good, but not nearly good enough!
With climate change accelerating at an astounding pace, it’s time for the US to invest heavily in measures that can halt and reverse global warming. With the world’s largest economy, we’re in a unique position to show leadership. Not only will this head off an increasing number of calamities, including wars, floods, starvation and other human tragedies. It will transform our economy, create jobs and reverse our decline in exports.
Imagine if, instead of increasing investments in our war machine designed to protect sources of cheap oil, we could use that money to help emerging countries gain access to clean water and cheap electricity. And what if we could do so by helping them leapfrog existing, dirty technology by selling them new carbon-free, sustainable energy? We would be helping them build their economies as we build our own. In addition, we would be building friendships that would last generations.
Imagine if by developing new technologies that would create inexpensive forms of carbon-free energy, we could, once again, export products to China that are made in the US. It’s possible. But it will take unified leadership from both President Obama and Congress.
Well, I can dream. Can’t I?