The Race to the Bottom Energy Plan

October 4, 2012

Do they still teach students about the Green House effect in public schools, particularly those in the south and in other major oil and coal towns? Or is it dismissed, along with the fact that it is caused by carbon emissions which are caused by our use of fossil fuels, i.e., coal and oil? Do schools in certain towns hear that such scientific data is simply part of some “crazy liberal agenda” to destroy jobs?  Because I am flabbergasted that so many people seem to completely ignore basic scientific facts.

I understand the hesitancy of those whose livelihood depends on the procuring,  manufacturing, and use of fossil fuels to acknowledge the harsh truths about the damage such an industry does to the entire world. If your daily work depends on something, you certainly do not want to admit that the industry you are in must be phased out. That is understandable–but if your personal livelihood at the moment was tied up with making or selling meth-amphetamine that doesn’t mean it should be legal and valid just because you depend on it; you should be provided with other opportunities for gainful employment. I know that sounds like a harsh, silly comparison, and I certainly don’t mean to draw any lines from the moral character of one who sells drugs to one who works in oil or coal (though the morality of those at the top banking the most of the profit in a company like Exxon or Shell who are all too aware of the damage they cause each day certainly have more than a few similarities to drug kingpins). Yet if meth is very dangerous to those who make or use it, far beyond that of even  most other recreational drugs, the burning of fossil fuels is dangerous to the entire future of the planet. We now know that we have more oil and coal reserves than we can ever hope to use safely if we want to keep the earth’s temperature from rising to a point in which irreversible, catastrophic changes in weather patterns will emerge, first hurting those in the most vulnerable corners of the world and ultimately hurting us all.

In last night’s debate Romney said he would open up public land and offshore drilling. The idea of unlimited drilling, spilling oil like we all witnessed in the Gulf in very recent history, occurring all across protected land, in national parks, in nature preserves, destroying mountains, lakes and air quality is chilling to say the last.  Romney said he would okay the Keystone pipeline, which is apt to cause quite a bit of damage in its operation and would only serve to transport oil from Canada to the southern tip of the US where it would be sold to other countries, making yet more profit for oil companies but not increasing US energy supplies and access one bit. Romney attacked the President for giving huge amounts of financial support to green energy instead of Oil and Coal. You can see the smirk and scoff from the current version of Mitt Romney when he even hears about Solar, Wind, or Green energy. The fact is that we can create a significant number of jobs in green energy, and we can train and transition those who currently work in oil and coal to shift to the energy plans of the future. Romney smiled about how he loved coal and wanted to burn it cleanly–something that cannot be done. Romney held up the President’s policies as reasons for declining jobs in coal, ignoring the fact that the main loss of jobs in coal during the President’s term have been a result of lower priced, higher profit yielding advances in  cheap ( and dangerously obtained by frakking) natural gas.

All industries change, and change is never painless. No one wants to see anyone lose their job and their financial stability. This is likely the reason the President has not been as forceful, vocal, and proactive as most environmentalists wish he would be; yet the very fact that he acknowledges the problem climate change poses and has begun to address it by funding alternative future energy has caused his opponents to over-exaggerate what he has actually done. As the Big Oil companies rally and pump money into propaganda  they have convinced their employees that their only livelihood is through them and in opposing change. It’s a new kind of Big Oil and Big Coal oppression which the progressive Unions of yesteryear combated. The longer we let Big (Dirty) Energy dictate what we can and cannot do, the less time for transition we have. We are at the tipping point–the time is now if we want to create growing, progressive, clean energy jobs all across the country and create them in the timely manner which will allow as painless a transition as possible to occur, both for consumers and for workers. We do not keep depending on a product or a job that has no sustainable future–that is insanity. We instead begin to make the change to what will work, to what is ultimately our only choice if we wish to preserve any of the planet’s health for future generations.

Last night Romney presented an energy plan which would lead to environmental disaster, a plan which appears to be a race to the bottom that ignores the future completely. If it is as immoral as Romney claims to leave future generations of Americans with inherited financial debt, it is far more immoral to leave environmental catastrophe to future generations–and at the rate we are going, if we face Romney’s plan of escalating fossil fuel usage and derailing progress for green energy, we will experience for ourselves some of what those future generations will experience very soon.

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