Energy Sustainability

For the sake of Earth and for the sake of our children, we must become sustainable quickly.  We could have started this in the 1960′s. I am proposing the following Constitutional Amendment to halt the destruction of Earth:

“Congress and the Executive Branch, in all their actions, will strive to recreate a biosphere like the one that existed when this country was founded.” 

Sustainability.  We all need to make this word a part of our daily language.  Is this or that practice sustainable?  Can we keep doing this, or that, for the next 200 years, without any negative impact on our biosphere?

Can we, for instance, continue to increase our oil use?  Is this practice sustainable?  Can we expect to extract ever more oil from the Earth?  Is this practice sustainable?  Can we continue to double the Earth’s population every 40 years?  Our population was two billion in 1920, and it will be fourteen billion in 2100.  A seven-fold increase.  Is this sustainable?  Only a small minority of the world’s population uses oil to the degree that America does.  When the world has caught up with us, can the Earth suddenly supply five times as much oil as it does now?  Is this sustainable?  And, if the population doubles again, and we are using ten times as much oil as we are using now, is that sustainable?  How will we get ten times that amount of oil out of the Earth?  And what will be the impact on the biosphere of burning one hundred times as much oil as we burn now?

This is the Titanic, headed straight for that iceberg!  But our leaders don’t see a problem.  Because if they did, we could depend on them to tell us, right?  We elected them to lead, and we can trust them . . . right?

Insanely, politicians today will look us in the eye and tell us that there is no problem.  Why?  Because they are lying.  Because they are pocketing boatloads of cash!  (Or they are illiterate.  One presidential candidate actually said that he did not believe the Earth was getting warmer!)

From New Jersey‘s Governor Christie,

“I understand you’re angry, and I understand you’re frustrated, and I understand you feel deceived and betrayed.  And the reason you feel all these things is because you have been deceived and you have been betrayed.  And for twenty years, governors have come into this room and lied to you.  Promised you benefits that they had no way of paying for, making promises they knew they couldn’t keep, and just hoping that they wouldn’t be the man or women left holding the bag.  I understand why you feel angry and betrayed and deceived by those people.”

There is the saying, “Lie to me once, shame on you.  Lie to me twice, shame on me.”   We are all being played for chumps, and we need to grow up and take responsibility for accepting those lies.  We need to start over with honest people who take the Money Out of Politics pledge.

Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Chemistry, Big Farm, Big Union, Big Law, Big Utility, Big Money: the 1%, have gone to the backrooms and scratched each other’s backs and made deals. And the word “sustainability” is never, ever, uttered.  It couldn’t be, because none of their practices is sustainable.

This has to stop.  We need an energy policy that rewards sustainable practices and penalizes Earth-destroying, unsustainable practices.  We need to implement it quickly, and we need to implement it in an orderly way.  Think of World War II, when we built hundreds of thousands of ships, tanks, planes, jeeps, and trucks in three years!  And we were done with the war in four.  Those men and women stood up.

We need to do that now.  We need to switch to solar, and wind, and other sustainable energy sources.  We needed to have begun that in the 1960s.  We put a man on the moon in 1969.  We could have ended the practice of burning carbon, but Big Oil was more interested in profit. It must be done, now.  We need to think outside the box.  We already have a solar car that has traveled 12,500 miles — on sunlight. We have a solar plane that was able to fly continuously for 24 hours, including at night, using solar power alone.  We have transportation available right now!  Imagine what the future might hold if we had a “Sputnik Moment,” and realized we have to catch up to the rapid energy innovation of other countries.

We have the technology to do this.  Do we have the will?

And can we see that the 1%, with their trillions of dollars and their “bought off” politicians, are brainwashing and scaring Americans with their propaganda so they can get even more money and power, yet change nothing?

Jeremy Rifkin’s work with the European Union is worth looking at.  His plan, laid out in his book, The Third Industrial Revolution, has been evaluated by brilliant thinkers in Europe for a number of years, and aspects of his plan are already being implemented in several European countries. This is doable.  The question is:  “Do we have time to do what’s needed before runaway global heating and population growth and economic problems make change untenable?”  Rifkin himself says that this project is a big job, but that he has “not seen a Plan B.”  Clearly, we need to get moving on a comprehensive plan.  Below are the concepts that Rifkin and the European Union have developed, and that I believe are the best game in town:

  1. Move from reliance on fossil fuel to sustainable and renewable energy.
  2. Reconfigure buildings to become individual collectors of energy.
  3. Install hydrogen and other technologies to store energy in each of these buildings.
  4. Connect all of us in America to an intelligent grid where we can all share energy and store energy.
  5. Move our transportation fleet to electricity.

We know we have a global warming problem.  We know we have a CO2 problem.  We simply need to move from thinking, to action.

Obama sounded like he had a few good ideas at one point, but Washington’s rigged corrupt system and the threat of the 1%’s SuperPACs made short order of his renewable energy ideas.

Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Third Industrial Revolution, challenges all of us to think in terms of the paradigm shift that is needed for tomorrow.

We need to ask our most skilled and knowledgeable energy scientists and educators to meet, collaborate, and come up with a plan within 90 days of the next term.  The current, elected officials have not been able to come up with a plan.  We hired them to do things like implement an energy policy. Would you keep an employee who did not do their job?  They have not done their job and we must fire them.  I once imagined Obama would create a sane energy plan, but he has caved.  He has been driven insane too.  He is now in the “Drill, baby, drill” camp.  He must go, too.

We need to encourage sustainability and discourage non-sustainability.  We need to get real about the true costs of, say, burning coal or oil or natural gas.  We must rapidly switch to solar energy and wind power and other sustainable energy sources.  We need to turn our furnaces down, or off.  We need to turn our air-conditioner thermostats up, or off.

Currently, we are ripping off the future and ruining our children’s planet.  How do you explain that to a child?  Seriously, go do it.  Find a 5- or 10-year-old child and tell them what you have done.  Look them in the eye and tell them what their future looks like.  We are the stewards of their world.  We need to let them know how we are doing our job.

Are you ready to tell the truth about the environment to the kids in your life?  I have.  I regularly make these amends to my grandchildren.  And we are all going to have to make sacrifices.  Nearly all of us will resist this.  We have become dependent on our carbon-burning lifestyle.

We need to get beyond this self-centeredness, and see the bigger picture; where we can see the wonder of a sustainable planet.  Once we are able to do that, I believe we will be grateful and gladly accept the sacrifices we must make, because we will finally have sane leadership that has a sane plan.  We will gladly drive our cars less often.  We will need to walk more and ride bikes more and take more buses and Skype and use teleconferencing.

If we grow up in a country that speaks English, we can pretty much predict that we will end up speaking English.  If we grow up in a country that is addicted to burning carbon, we can pretty much predict that it will not be easy to give up our “fix,” our dependence on burning carbon.

We are in a race.  Can we change before we hit the iceberg?  Perhaps we should park our cars, turn off the lights, and turn off the furnaces and air conditioners, until we can look our children in the eyes and tell them that we are all doing everything we can to stop destroying their world.

There is a simple solution to our energy problem. Back in the 1960s, we could have started moving toward a sustainable, post-carbon age. Instead, we’ve been persuaded by the PR of the 1%, the collusion of our elected officials with the massive oil industry, to fall for the magic of the heat that comes from igniting carbon.

“Wow, look at all the energy released when I set carbon on fire!”

Like children, we have set our planet on fire without thinking about the consequences.  Our childish practices have built dictatorships in oil-producing nations, caused millions of deaths from countries vying for oil supplies, and led to the horrific specter of a dying planet.

It is time to set the solution in motion. We, you and I, need to sit down and work together to come up with a brief vision statement and a simple energy policy.

My suggestion for such a vision statement is:

‘We see an America whose energy needs will be met in 5 years from 50% sustainable sources, in 10 years from 90% sustainable sources, and in 15 years from 99% sustainable sources.  Furthermore, we will all work like crazy to restore the growth of carbon-absorbing plants in America and throughout the world.”

As a Congressman, I would suggest that all Senators and Representatives be locked in a room until we can come to a consensus on a sane energy policy.  And if any of us is unable to join in a consensus because we have been “bought off” by those who funded our elections, I would ask them to step aside or leave office immediately so that the rest of us can get this critical job done.

There is no reason why we can’t lay out a comprehensive plan in four days.

As a Congressman, I would support a bill in Congress proposing the following Constitutional Amendment:

“Congress and the Executive Branch, in all their actions, will strive to recreate a biosphere like the one that existed when this country was founded.”