Go Green or Go Home

There’s been a slight surge in the debate on global warming with the super typhoon that swept through the Philippines a couple weeks ago leaving untold thousands dead and millions in desperate need of food and water. This decade has set the record for the biggest hurricanes and typhoons around the world. Hurricane Katrina was one of those mega storms. Droughts and heat waves have been just as hard on the planet and the global food supply. I wanted to write a new piece on the environment to highlight all of this and maybe something on the farm bill in congress, but I’ve had a severe case of writers block for the past month due to academic fatigue. So read this bit I wrote last year. It does the job.

The environment use to be a bipartisan issue. Its early champion was Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, who established huge reservations of land for public use and enjoyment, something few nations have in such vast quantities. The Environmental Protection Agency was founded by Republican Richard Nixon in 1970, something the Republicans of today are seeking to abolish. No one can say they hate nature, especially in Wisconsin. Yet somehow the human need for the natural world has been amiss in the conversation of the environment vs. jobs.

There used to be a consensus on the need to protect our environment. Republicans use to be the go to people on pollution, park reservation, and resource conservation, for they saw a healthier environment as essential to the public and private good, since air and water quality does not distinguish between the two spheres. They thought it was against business interests when the Ohio River caught on fire in 1969. They thought clean air and drinking water was something that should be a human right for our citizens. But today, the slightest opposition to proposed environmental regulation from the richest business group makes Republicans cry foul in the name of jobs, despite the fact corporations have record capital and aren’t expanding much, and that all regulations in the U.S. from any government agency have been found to likely add only .5% to the unemployment rate. Most environmental regulation isn’t an anti-business conspiracy sapping jobs. It’s obvious public good to make sure people aren’t dying when they step outside, or that our wildlife aren’t growing extra heads. People tend to not be productive consumers or workers when they have trouble breathing or consuming water.

Ask anyone in China right now. Their rapid industrialization in the past few decades has created some of the poorest air quality conditions in the world. About half of the aquifers for drinking water in China are now too contaminated for safe consumption.

It makes amazing sense for us to invest heavily into green infrastructure. The incentive for government to invest is all there.  We have high unemployment and a need to build up our manufacturing. Put the unemployed to work making our infrastructure, transportation, and energy grid the most advanced in the world. We have the resources and manpower, and the improvements are sorely needed. I believe the Corp of Engineers ranks U.S. infrastructure at a D right. That’s embarrassing. When our grid becomes loaded with constantly advancing high-tech solar, wind, electric, and hydro power, energy will be nearly infinite and domestically produced. Within the coming decades it is unlikely for us to break the 50% mark in green energy use, but unless we start laying the foundation with investment, it won’t be there when it’s needed most. Here’s what I don’t get from the market whiners on green energy and industrial investment. It is an industry that will be creating millions of sustainable domestic jobs, and energy independence will improve our national security and economic stability. Our quality and length of life will be better with clean energy, and we will be reducing our carbon footprint, which besides reducing the effects of global warming, reduces our strain on world resources. We will be the envy of the world– an evolved economy that all emerging nations will try to imitate. And we can export our green tech machines to these aspiring nations!

Although I think global warming at this point is taboo to deny, I think it’s irrelevant to think it exists or not in the context of the policies that a response to global warming calls for. Making clean energy and mass transportation, which is absolutely crucial for our economy; building a smarter food network to increase our public and environmental health, and sustaining our water and air quality, which 10/10 doctors say is critical for living quality. All of these are byproducts of dealing with global warming!

If we accomplish all of those wonderful things, and it turns out global warming is the liberal hoax your uncle tells you it is, who cares?! We now have a more sustainable and stable society. If we don’t accomplish those wonderful things, and Global warming is accelerated and worse than what scientists thought it would be, then civilization and humanity as we know it are fucked. It’s like playing Russian roulette, except you can see and pick which chamber you’d like. One has a bullet, another is stuffed with kittens.

We’ve waged wars against communism and fascism for the good of America. Why not against pollution and waste? Why not spend a trillion dollars planting trees and building a smart energy grid? If we have that luxury of wasting blood and bullets in the sands of Iraq, we can surely put priority to a desperately needed first world face lift. Oil and coal companies use to think that mineral reserves were an infinite resource that could just be found by digging deeper. But they are not. Someday a hundred and fifty years from now, the wells and mines will run empty from the weight of the expanding world, and anyone caught begging for food or energy will find its economy at its knees and its citizenry’s standard of life shattered. Why not preempt that inevitability and start a new world trend?

While there has been decent progress from the EPA under the Obama administration and countless community leaders, to make a real impact requires universal consensus from politicians domestically and abroad.  I title this “Go Green or Go Home” to be ironic. If we don’t make the obvious changes that should be natural to us, we won’t have a home worth going to.

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