At least it was a couple of years ago; this might be changing, though not fast enough. Despite nearly overwhelming scientific evidence, including this week’s sobering-if-not-surprising revelation that the UN agrees on this, almost half of those living in the US just don’t buy it. Lets also not talk about the first-ever snow storm/nor’easter/hurricane (snoeastercane!), rapid increase in both frequency and severity of tornados in the Midwest and new heat records every year…but those may be caused by gay marriage or Justin Bieber or something.
But even if you don’t “believe” in climate change (and by that I mean you would prefer to keep your head firmly buried in the sand…or somewhere else dark and smelly), pretend for a second that you do. Then you’d understand that climate change is caused by the excessive burning of fossil fuels, which get trapped in the atmosphere and allow the heat to creep up a lot faster than our eco-system would prefer. These fossil fuels are really oil…from our cars, from power plants, etc.
So yeah, lots of oil use = climate change = bad shit. But okay, you’re not down with that equation. Let me tell you why you should care about our oil use anyway.
America’s addition to oil has long past become a national security problem. The reasons for this are many, but I’m going to talk about two: (1) A significant portion of the money we pay to fill up our SUVs goes into the hands of those who don’t seem to like us very much and (2) The people of the United States need to create a new generation of working class careers to re-establish its middle class.
We all know that many of the world’s largest oil deposits are in the Middle East, and that a lot of folks in the Middle East aren’t too happy with Americans. But Americans continue to fund some of those activities through the gas pump. So it stands to reason that if the US stopped buying gas tomorrow, that would probably be a significant victory in the War on Terror, wouldn’t it?
This brings me to reason #2. One thing that’s pretty clear about the economic recovery over the last four years is that everyone has done a pretty piss-poor job of creating, well, jobs. Washington would rather have constant pissing matches than get anything done, and job creation continues to languish.
There’re a number of technologies out there that can replace oil already. The one I like best is the idea that we cover unusable desert land with solar panels and wind turbines, then create a national power grid to fully distribute the energy created around the country. Then give tax incentives to the US auto makers to create a large number of plug-in hybrid cars…the kind that can go around 200 miles on a single charge, then switch over to a gas electric hybrid engine. Building all of this would create a ton of manufacturing jobs, and they can be kept right here in the US.
But if solar and wind isn’t your cup of tea, maybe pushing a hydrogen powered car is more in line with your expectations. Or maybe we work with the guy who created the water-powered car in Tokyo. Or maybe someone can figure out how to get cold fusion up and running.
Whatever it is, and it’s probably a combination of these and other things, it’s clear that if the US wanted to, it could get off of oil in a generation, and create a whole new generation of the middle class while doing so. If the US is lucky, they can become the world leaders in new energy, and can export to the rest of the world, further bolstering its job base. Lets not forget: a strong economy is as much a national security issue as anything.
This is in everyone’s best interest, and it’s frankly stunning that no one else has figured this out yet. Here’s the bonus: it’s a hell of a first step in taking care of climate change.
So the next time you hear about climate change, remember that it really is a national security issue, whether you believe in it or not.