Prominent pollution in 2006 photo Los Angeles, as viewed from the Hollywood Hills, by Diliff (cropped); CC BY-SA 3.0; via Wikimedia Commons.
Prominent pollution in a 2006 photo of Los Angeles, as viewed from the Hollywood Hills, by Diliff (cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Seeing our way clear to sustainability

February 26, 2019

It could be said that we will not have peace on Earth until peace becomes more profitable than war, but applying this same principle to the choice between fossil fuels and clean, renewable energy is a no-brainer. The benefits of the transition to clean energy are not only numerous but quite profitable.

Fossil fuels, like coal, oil and natural gas, have been the lifeblood of America since well before the Industrial Revolution, and it could easily be argued that fossil fuels made a very large contribution towards making America the economic force in the world that it is today.

The energy required to power everything from our automobiles to our electrical grids, our manufacturing plants, and to heat our homes had to come from somewhere, and mining coal, oil and natural gas seemed to be the perfect solution at the time.

We only need to look around at the progress that America has made in the last one hundred years to see the benefits that our country has reaped from fossil fuels, albeit at the expense of our health and our environment. These leaps of progress, and the debts they incurred, come from a time when there was little else for energy options, but today the options are staring us right in the face, and the common sense cannot be ignored. 

 The United States is not solely independent of where we source our fossil fuels, and energy independence should be one of our highest priorities. Canada provides us 40% of our fossil fuel imports; Saudi Arabia 11%, Venezuela 9%, and Mexico 8%, interestingly enough. While the U.S. is sitting on what is the largest known shale oil deposits in the world, sourcing that shale through fracking contaminates our country’s air, water and soil in the extraction process, in addition to the dangers of transport which include pipeline breaks and ocean spills.

Most of the air pollution we experience on Earth is a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels, creating carbon dioxide which has adverse effects on human health as well as the health of our planet. 

Through technological advancements we have been able to find cleaner resources for our energy demands. Hydroelectric power generation has been around for over a century but wind power, solar power, biomass, and geothermal are long past due for serious consideration as alternative energies.

Presently, countries all over the world have shown the efficacy of producing clean and sustainable energy, and their country’s people and their economies have profited.

The fossil fuel industry itself is the largest stumbling block to clean energy here in the U.S., and through their buying of our Congress with their financial clout, they have not only reinforced their industry’s stranglehold on our energy resources, but also secured for themselves over 20 billion dollars per year in subsidies (money that belongs to the U.S. taxpayer). The second largest stumbling block to clean energy here in the U.S. is likely misinformation. Many Americans believe what they are told by the particular news sources that are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, and this conspiracy couldn’t be more transparent.

If we, as a country, are looking for true energy independence, then we cannot continue to rely on other countries for our energy resources.

There are those who will say, “What about the 10 million American jobs that are currently held by the fossil fuel industry?” and the answer is that employment in the energy sector will simply take a different course. The building and maintaining of wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panel installations, hydroelectric plants, geothermal and biomass installations and even ocean power will both spark a jump in hiring for the construction of these applications, as well as sustaining employment in their operation and maintenance. Of all the renewable energy sources already in place, it is wind power that has grown exponentially in the last ten years, with solar a close second. We need to start making solid investments in the future instead of looking to the past. Both wind and solar energy generation also require no waste of water in their production like fossil fuels do. 

One of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, BP, claims that there is enough oil left on Earth to last another 53 years but this shouldn’t comfort anyone, as the negative effects of fossil fuels need to be addressed immediately when considering the alternative energy sources that lay right at our feet.

 If we, as a country, are looking for true energy independence, then we cannot continue to rely on other countries for our energy resources. Geopolitics change direction like the wind and are not to be counted upon today or in the future. It could even be argued that relying on other countries for our energy is a national security risk that makes for some very strange bedfellows. Clean energy is the only path to true energy independence, and this point alone should seal the deal for most Americans. Clean and renewable energy is not a pipe dream anymore, and now is not the time to be controlled any longer by those with nefarious motives and agendas that are harming the planet.

So let’s shed the shackles of the influence of the fossil fuel industry and speak for ourselves to the benefit of our country, our planet and to our future generations. 

I dream of a day when our skies are blue and our water is clean. 

I dream of a day when our own impact on this planet is a positive one instead of a negative one.

I dream of a day when our grandchildren are playing with their grandchildren and they think of us, and thank us.

James Kennedy

James Kennedy is a local artist and former businessman. He enjoys fine art, cooking and music. His own artworks are on view and available for purchase at his website.

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