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Why Make a Risky Gamble on Our Future? Save our Dollars to Save US

August 23, 2010

Hey, is it getting hotter and wetter around  town or is just me!

About six months ago, I designed a scientifically unscientific survey about anthropogenic climate change. The survey was targeted to members of energy related groups in LinkedIn.  At first, I thought the survey was sheer stupidity.  It was so biased towards energy conscious individuals, that the results would be predicable and self-serving. Obviously, I thought, those striving for renewable energy and sustainability were extremely sensitive to greenhouse gas emissions and its effects on the climate and environment.

Boy, was I wrong. The most obvious conclusion of this survey was the “extreme” polarization of people into two relatively similar sized camps , 60% vs. 40%, those that consider “Climate Change” “IS” and “IS NOT” a problem, respectively.  Comments filled 369 pages (10pt, Arial, mostly single spaced). It was like discussing religion, very few were receptive to what the other side was saying. For the most part, feeling were absolute, steadfast and unwavering.

Ironically as biased as the survey was, the results strongly reflected recent professionally designed polls on this subject. Gallup’s annual update on American’s global warming concerns showed similar trends. Their poll concluded that:

“………… Americans’ attitudes toward the environment shows a public that over the last two years has become less worried about the threat of global warming, less convinced that its effects are already happening, and more likely to believe that scientists themselves are uncertain about its occurrence. In response to one key question, 48% of Americans now believe that the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated, up from 41% in 2009 and 31% in 1997, when Gallup first asked the question.” see http://tinyurl.com/barry-stevens22.

Now comes an editorial that ran on August 22nd in The New York Times, “Disaster at the Top of the World,” by Thomas Homer-Dixon, see http://tinyurl.com/barry-stevens23. The article stated:

“In 1994, ………. a United States Coast Guard icebreaker, the Polar Sea, smashed their way to the North Pole through thousands of miles of pack ice six- to nine-feet thick. “The sea conditions in the Arctic Ocean were rarely an issue for us in those days, because the thick continuous ice kept waves from forming,”

” ……… Now, there’s so much open water that we have to account for heavy swells that undulate through the sea ice. It’s almost like a dream: the swells move in slow motion, like nothing I’ve seen elsewhere.”

“The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and this summer its sea ice is melting at a near-record pace.”

” Globally, 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record. In regions around the world, indications abound that earth’s climate is quickly changing, like the devastating mudslides in China and weeks of searing heat in Russia. But in the world’s capitals, movement on climate policy has nearly stopped.”

If true, statements like the above, which are being routinely reported are around the world should be a wakeup call. We been asleep at the switch too long. Salmonella in eggs, which has affected only a few hundred people, is getting more attention and action. The climate freight train is running out of control; getting more unstable, less predictable and more catastrophic with time.  We are not talking about a few hundred people anymore, the changes are seen worldwide Hey, for the third time in the recorded history, Seattle hit over 100 deg. F this year. That would have been a blessing to Muscovites.

Don’t get me wrong, the earth has been there and back far longer than man walked its surface. But if we have the capability to do something that benefits all- us and the environment, why not do it.

On the other hand and maybe more important in the short-term, don’t forget the U.S. is a debtor nation with an ever growing trade imbalance. Foreign oil only adds to and does not detract from this problem. Faster than the ice is melting, the U.S. is losing its financial, political, technical and manufacturing prowess.

We must get off petroleum, now! What harm is it to utilize clean, abundant, and domestic sources of energy, which if accounted for on an apples-to-apples basis with petroleum, are truly  competitive.  Wakeup – it’s about us, humanity and our future.  Only through these actions can we ensure our children’s children will have any measure of success in the future.

So no matter if you are a believer or non-believer that our activities are culprit for all these climatic events, the simple fact remains – WHY GAMBLE ON THE FUTURE.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 24, 2010 4:55 PM

    I’m completely on board as to keeping US energy dollars with US energy producers (and US government efforts to encourage this).

    I think we shouldn’t delude ourselves that this will prevent use of fossil carbon fuels, though. If the US purchased less foreign fossil fuels, the prices for the fuels would drop and lead to greater economy of fossil fuel use for other purchsors. Predictably, folks who are presently priced out of using fossil fuels can begin using them and folks who use as much as they can presently afford will be able to afford to use more.

    The somewhat depressing conclusion is that, short of international agreement to tax fossil fuel use (or military or other action to knock out fossil fuel production… a somewhat extreme option, I’d say), fossil fuel use will continue until it becomes non-economical to do so. Extraction costs are so far below market prices that that condition seems far off at best.

    Even though it may be objectionable, I think we have little choice but to plan for a world in which substantially all economically-accessible fossil carbon reserves enter the biosphere within the next 50-100 years.

    That doesn’t mean that US energy dollars should leave US shores — but any premium on US energy costs will appear in US-made goods. Even if the US were to impose a tarriff (?) on the energy content of foreign made goods (and assuming this could be done under current treaties), goods made with US-priced energy would remain penalized on foreign markets.

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