Even though I enthusiastically voted for Barack Obama on his platform for change – which included his promises for transparency and a Green Economy – frankly, I am wholly disappointed with the Democratic Party’s reluctance to wrestle, take down, and once-and-for-all, pin the Right Wing to the mat. Those of us with a brain, a heart, and even a little bit of influence in our respective communities need to muster the courage to cut through, expose, and move beyond their slanderous lies, manipulation of the truth, adolescent reluctance, and inauthentic posturing for the benefit of their own political careers… to finally break The Right’s illusory choke hold on American politics. With no exaggeration, the collective well-being (if not survival) of our species, but more importantly that of our children and home planet, is at stake.
Over the past year, hundreds of billions of tax payer’s dollars were applied toward the “American Reinvestment and Recovery Act”, otherwise known as the “Stimulus Bill”, which included tens of billions of dollars that went toward road improvement and supposed renewable energy projects, the most recent of which being the first nuclear plant to be built in the US for over 30 years. Rather than looking toward a hopeful future and seeking to make amends that would benefit the greater whole, the above mentioned act has produced tens-of-thousands of construction jobs in short order that will be in existence for a relatively short period of time, while the energy initiative exchanges noxious carbon energy for an extremely risky, volatile, indisposable, and centralized source of radioactive energy. More importantly, perhaps, these ‘solutions’ maintain an unhealthy status-quo, catering to embedded special interests and lobbies under the auspice of a shift toward laying firm foundations for a 21st-century green economy.
It is my belief that one simple idea – a plan to implement a thoughtful and systemically comprehensive long-term Sustainable Strategy – has been completely overlooked during the many debates and dialogues from over the past few years.
Besides plotting a map to where we want to go, and what we want to accomplish, over the next 5, 10, 20, and 50 years, we should seek to understand the root problems: their respective origins and histories; how each is internally wired; how each connects to every other; and how each problem relates to and affects the economy, culture, public health, environment, employment, climate change, and our species’ legacy … instead of perpetrating the usual covering-up of symptoms with distraction, misdirection, and fiscal Band-Aids.
Let’s take a few steps back to consider the big picture, and seek to understand each problem systemically, then seek to understand how each problem connects to or affects other elements in this picture. We are teetering on the edge of a threshold and have a choice to make. Do we take that bold step into the uncertain, to probably lead and inspire the rest of the world through initiating an age of renewable energy and materials through a Green Revolution? Or do we simply continue to fall back on tired formulas, to keep making the same mistakes until it all comes crashing down?
Following are a few thoughts about how a Green Revolution might usher in a paradigm shift toward a Silver Age. Through applying sustainable technologies, practices, processes, and cradle to grave educational and informational resources (that would encourage each of us to think about and measure the cost/consequences versus the benefits of specific behaviors, products, resources, and energies) we could effectively participate in creating a more conscientious society while being the stewards of our planet, insuring a clean, healthy, and enjoyable quality-of-life for our children.
In my opinion, transitioning into a Sustainable Economy would mean to:
• Reestablish the United States as a first-class manufacturing economy… followed by a substantially increased GDP, reduction in our national deficit and debt, collective purchasing power, and an increase in gross sales- and income-tax which, if properly directed, would significantly improve public infrastructure, public utilities, public education, and access to health services.
• Spur on the development of technologies and products that are cutting edge, energy and resource efficient, useful, in-demand, and recyclable, reusable, and/or refurbishable.
• Similar to how we led the world in the desktop computing and the internet revolution – developed by the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. – the United States could again be at the forefront of the research, development, and application of green technologies, which would translate into thousands of jobs, and billions, if not trillions of dollars each year. Try to consider what technologies could be realized and knowledge would be revealed if we engaged in the research, development, and improvement of solar, wind, geothermal, magnetic, water fuel, zero point energy, superconductors, etc. with a similar enthusiasm to how computing technology has been developed over the past 30 years.
• Re-ignite mid-western and rustbelt manufacturing, and Silicon Valley research and development, economies through creating a demand for a highly skilled and educated workforce while also implementing the creative and ‘clean’ reuse of vacant industrial complexes.
• Lessen our demand for and impact on public services, utilities, and infrastructure.
• Balance the Trade Deficit by creating high-quality products and services for export to other nations.
• Minimize the need to, or the rate by which we extract natural resources, because cleaner, reusable, and recyclable energy resources would be implemented.
• Potentially reduce our dependence on the automobile, and thus promote the reclamation of our streets for better uses. Considering how much of our landscape is capped by streets and parking lots, this would contribute to the literal ‘re-greening’ of our planet by removing paved surfaces (thereby enabling the recharge of our fresh water aquifers, and a significant reduction of storm water runoff and flooding), reusing existing rights-of-way for bicycles, street cars, high-speed rail, linear parks, urban and suburban infill (which would further translate into mixed-use development, walkable neighborhoods, accessibility, fewer trips, and shorter trip distances per trip).
• Encourage urban planning, design, architecture, and landscape architecture that implements rooftop and courtyard native plant and crop gardens, rainwater capture, gray water reuse, sustainable and insulative building materials, and the application of solar, wind, geothermal technologies.
•Enable a climate change course correction by significantly reducing carbon emissions.
• Enable the planet’s filtration and ‘immune’ systems to cycle and cleanse by significantly reducing air, water, and land emissions while also allowing scarred geoscapes (such as regions and ecosystems devastated by mountain top removal, deforestation, toxic wastes, industrial agriculture practices, ocean dead zones) to heal.
• Force us to rethink the way we by which we educate our children; to incorporate knowledge, training, and skills that are applicable to the Green Economy. This would encourage future generations to think differently through better understanding personal and collective impacts, cycles, feedback systems, and the relationship between of cause and effect, impact and consequence.
• Ultimately improve the quality of our food, water, and air… and thus our overall health. Additionally, if some of the devastated ecosystem were able to repair, while still extant ecosystems were less likely to be impacted, many natural pharmaceutical substances may yet be discovered.
• Reduce a few of our reasons for warfare and colonialization, as one reason for war related directly to our desire for access to and control of natural resources.
Think about it… We’ve done it before, we can do it again. Whether it be nuclear science, the human genome, super-computing, or flying to the moon, we’ve made what was once considered science fiction become real science. And when we consider contemporary great public works projects, such as the myriad of FDR’s WPA projects (including the The Hoover Dam and The Lincoln Tunnel), The Golden Gate Bridge, The Panama Canal, or The Interstate Highway system, it is indisputable that we’ve completed some seemingly unreal and truly momentous projects that have, unquestionably, changed the course of human history. So, if we have a dream, and we put our hearts and minds toward making into a reality, we are capable of accomplishing almost anything.
And though it will cost a lot of money up-front to initiate this change, make no mistake, such a transition will make a lot of people a lot of money, while giving even the least fortunate segment of our population access to a cleaner and more affordable water, food, transportation, and energy.
Lets talk about this further, then compel our leaders to recruit then employ the greatest visionaries, hearts, and minds on the planet from the sciences, the arts, and industry… especially those who are able to think beyond their own self-interests.
With this said, though these ideas make perfect sense to me, I am, by no means, an expert in any of these fields. So, to improve my own understanding, and that of other readers, I invite you to contribute your own comments and suggestions.
Finally, feel free to pass this link along if you have any friends who may be interested in reading and/or chiming in…
Thank you! :) Craig Morse