America is at an economic as well as environmental crossroads. We can either stagnate and retreat to become a second-class world power or we can do what we have done so well in the past: innovate and lead the world in creativity and wealth.
Regrettably, and frighteningly, led by corporate short-sightedness if not outright greed, we seem to be choosing stagnation. Two recent developments reported in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun have local impact that point us in this wrong direction.
The first is the news that President Obama is reversing a 20-year old agreement and opening the east coast from Maryland and Delaware down to Florida to off-shore drilling exploration.
Whether this is a strategic political move on his part to wrest green energy concessions from green energy opponents or a tactical decision to help secure America’s energy needs, it is misguided.
His right wing opponents have already indicated that this decision does not go far enough to assuage them or win concessions from them. And besides, continuing to pursue the very last dregs of liquid fossil fuels from our imperiled earth only delays the inevitable, at great cost. We need to move away from fossil fuels as our primary energy source.
For all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is economics. Green energy is the gold mine of the future, and right now, China is surpassing us in renewable energy production.
Maryland should be concerned about this because of the second recent alarming development: BP Solar, based in Frederick just announced it was closing shop, shutting down 300+ local jobs. We hear that the manufacturing part of their solar business is being off-loaded to China.
Inconceivably, the United States, the nation that prides itself in being the world leader in technological development, is lagging behind China and Europe in the creation and use of renewable energy. And the gap is growing every year. This is at the same time that the solar energy sector, among other green efforts, is booming, even in this difficult economic climate.
“The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) released figures (March 30, 2010) showing that the global solar photovoltaic industry had a record year in 2009. EPIA reported that global installed capacity increased to 20GW last year, an increase of 6.4GW. It is expecting another increase of at least 40% in total installed capacity in 2010.” And modestly, a 15% increase every year after that.
So why aren’t we chasing solar, and why are we fighting against windmills offshore but in favor of drilling? The worst argument against windmills offshore is aesthetic. The worst argument against drilling offshore is potential environmental devastation in the event of accidents and spills during operations, plus continued atmospheric degradation, climate change and global meltdown in the burning of those fuels.
The choice seems obvious. We need to choose the right path both for the well-being of our nation and the health of the world.