By: Alan Fortescue (NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the author's, not necessarily Earthwatch's.)
I'd like to follow up on last week's blog to become an even louder squeaky wheel in search of some grease.
Last week I proposed that instead of using his stimulus package (as much as an additional $700 billion) to bail out and reinvest in a faulty system, Obama use that money to stimulate a new green energy economy. I spoke in general terms, from the environmental perspective; this week I will be more specific and will speak from the business perspective.
What we know already: there is a critical clarion call from the Earth for a sea change in the way we humans live our daily lives—especially with respect to our use of fossil fuels. Despite what we frequently read in the popular media, practical solutions that could help us achieve this goal within 10 years do exist.The simple truth is that going green would mean record internal development, economic growth and massive job creation. Compare that to a fossil fuel economy that sends billions overseas rather than improving life at home. In his 10 year energy independence challenge, Al Gore said:
"When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home."
Here is how we might make a change and capitalize on the renewable energy opportunity:
Just as the United States built a highway infrastructure in the 1950s, we could build a renewable energy infrastructure today. Let's look at wind power. Instead of paving roads and manufacturing cars, we could build and new interstate system of power lines and wind towers.
In addition to creating jobs in wind tower production and the building, maintenance and managing the new power grid, a slew of new business opportunities would develop—just as fast food restaurants, drive in movies, malls, and other businesses popped up around the highway system.
Our solutions would be based on the emerging world, not the disappearing one. So what do we need?
Well, it's important to understand the problem is not one of technology—but rather one of financing, production, installation and infrastructure. Here is where this plan becomes exciting; this is an unprecedented historical opportunity. Rather than see our current economic crisis as doomsday, we can see it for what it is: a chance to right our ship. The solution would combine Obama's bailout money and our failing auto industry.
As Lester Brown wrote in his book Plan B 3.0, just as American industry retooled in a year to produce tanks, airplanes and battleships for WWII, the American auto industry can be re-tooled to mass produce the number of wind towers needed to reposition the United States as the world leader in energy, technology and vision.
In addition to making this change possible, the stimulus money could be used to train the massive workforce needed to install and maintain the power grid.
At a unique moment in history when the auto industry is failing and hundreds of thousands have become unemployed, this plan could re-employ people in jobs that cannot be outsourced. The wind energy is here, at home—not in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. In fact the only thing likely to be outsourced would be our technology innovations and the expertise we gain in installing a truly national system.
And if you don't believe wind power could provide us with what we need, consider these facts:
The US Department of Energy completed a study nearly 20 years ago that showed the states of North Dakota, Kansas and Texas alone have enough active wind energy to power the entire country. If we would but build the wind towers and interstate connectivity we could have virtually unlimited FREE power, FOREVER.
Obviously Americans would pay some smaller fee to the state to maintain and improve the system, but long gone would be the days of sending money overseas. Long gone would be the need to keep your thermostat low in winter. We could go on and on with the benefits.
The cost of all this would be 1/4 of what we spend on national defense annually, and is roughly equivalent to what is spent each year subsidizing oil industries. It is also roughly 1/3 of what is spent annually in oil extraction, transportation and refinement.
The added benefit is that is it not destroying the world. This thought gets us back to the fact that this is not just a huge economic opportunity, but would be a loud shot heard round the world and a giant step towards stopping climate change.
What do you think? Would you be willing to make your voice heard to push for this solution?
Image credit:Crown Butte, wind turbines
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