The extreme opposition to sustainable energy development is baffling on many levels. But let’s take a look at one frequent argument.
It’s too expensive. It’ll hurt American businesses and cost American jobs.
Let’s go back in time and consider the development and use of locomotive steam engines. In the early nineteenth century, widespread expansion of the railroad ushered in the industrial age necessitating, among other things, the production and laying of thousands of miles of track. A costly endeavor funded in part by the United States government.
No doubt stagecoach manufacturers and other supporting businesses railed against their own demise and keened over lost jobs caused by the birth of this new industry.
For the sake of argument let’s say the stagecoach lobby had successfully prohibited the development of the rail industry and the government had not provided additional funding. Would that have been the end of it? No. The rest of the world would have forged ahead becoming industrial leaders leaving the United States in its wake.
In the early twentieth century the U.S. again led the way in defining the auto industry. In 1956 we made the decision as a nation to invest in an automobile culture funding and building a massive network of roads and highways rather than growing a national rail system similar to Europe and Japan’s. That’s fine, it’s a choice we made. However, the combustion engine which operates our transportation of choice contributes greatly to the overall ill-health of our planet.
A mere decade ago we came perilously close to the complete collapse of the American auto industry. The relative few holding the purse strings, thereby wielding influence, stymied eco-minded innovation whilst relocating factories to countries that manufactured parts, pieces, and in some cases, entire vehicles for a fraction of the cost, causing thousands of Americans to lose their jobs.
Sustainable clean energy production is the future. In many places, it is already the present. Yet so many Americans are again swallowing whole a narrative fed to us by big oil, big coal, and big money. A narrative assuring Americans the only real option is to continue digging up and burning fossil fuels – proven lethal pollutants to our land, water, and atmosphere.
Innovation is as American as the moon landing. Yet we are lagging far behind such countries as China and Germany who are spearheading the development of new technologies. If we don’t embrace change, we will no longer attract the best and brightest minds to the Unites States. Instead we’ll lose a generation of scientists, engineers, architects, physicists, and entrepreneurs as they emigrate to work with countries committed to developing sustainable methods of energy production.
For over 240 years we have proven time and time again that we are adaptable. We are resilient. We are optimists. We are pioneers.
We are Americans.
It’s time we act like it.