Economists around the world believe energy choices are vital to future economic, environmental and social prosperity.
This will be the third year that China has reduced coal consumption. India has committed to reduce their emissions. On April 22, 2016, 174 nations signed the articles of ratification to the Paris Agreement. Of these, 15 nations deposited their instruments of ratification. By July 27 there were 179 signatories to the Paris Agreement and 20 States had deposited their instruments of ratification.(U.N. FCCC)
That is one amazingly good start, except for one huge holdout that could nix the entire movement. That holdout is the U.S. Congress and the financial sources that feed their recalcitrance. The U.S. 2016 election is therefore critical to global action to mitigate emissions and the funding necessary to adapt to global warming.
U.S. voters have a clear choice between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton. The Republican Platform does not support climate change energy policy. The Democratic Platform supports moderate and incremental changes that will not prevent warming above 2℃ (3.6℉). Neither platform is sufficient to address the magnitude or urgency of global warming and climate change ramifications.
The Bernie Sanders “revolution” supported the clear scientific understanding of anthropogenic emissions and global warming. His campaign connected the dots between economic recovery, the necessity for regulatory oversight of wall street and banking, education, jobs and energy policy. The highly educated and youth of America rallied behind these goals and the urgency of climate change. The Sanders platform believed that addressing global warming is the linchpin to future prosperity.
The Democratic Platform was altered dramatically as the Sanders campaign showed vigorous and widespread support. Nearly every point of his campaign gained a plank in the DNC platform. Combating climate change, building a clean energy economy and securing environmental justice only appears on page 27 of the DNC platform. Climate change is identified as “…an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.” The choice to use the words “an” and “a” suggests a lower priority. But how can any of the other objectives be sustained if three-quarters of the world falls into chaos because of climate change? In a global civilization there is no security unless everyone is secure.
The informed electorate must keep up the pressure. The future security and sustained prosperity of America is inextricably linked to climate change. That is the point RNC politicians tend to forget or not see at all.
Throughout history every energy revolution has led to an economic boom and leap forward in social well-being. From muscle to wood and peat, to coal, from coal to petroleum, and the introduction of nuclear power; each transition was resisted.
Cellulosic fuel suppliers complained when coal became the new energy source for the industrial revolution. Coal producers and coal miners panicked when petroleum and nuclear power threatened their generations-old livelihoods. Each evolution from one energy source to another led to greater employment and prosperity. New and often unimagined careers were invented to fit the new paradigm. Today, change is more rapid and varied. The shock of change is traumatic. The next generation is unlikely to have a career that lasts a lifetime. Continuing education and job training for this change must be an integral part of the new norm. Regulatory oversight of banking, Wall Street and corruption is necessary to prevent stumbling as rapid adaptation takes place.
People in America are uneasy. For the past three decades, 99 percent have watched their wages stagnate. The cost of living, education, health and retirement has outpaced income. The 99 percent watched the rich get vastly richer, while the average Joe and Jane became indentured to debt and a shrinking middle class. Young workers and lowest ranks of the employed can no longer see a future where hard work can lead to security and prosperity. Even those making a living wage are not protected from catastrophic events and health emergencies. In desperate times, people tend to fracture and lose cultural homogeneity. Society breaks into insular groups that become islands of paranoia and fear of others. Fear becomes the siren call of despotism and demagoguery. Fear begets fear. Other groups become scapegoats.
Globalization and 7.5 billion people means civilization will experience greater complexity. This complexity must not be allowed to increase fear and bunkers of ideological, ethnic and religious isolationism. These complex times require more unity and cooperation. When the home team is down and the clock is running out, we must pull together to make the play that wins the game.
Today’s electorate must show that they know the importance of change and that they are ready and willing to take on the work to make change successful.
Americans elect a President, not a King. A President may have noble goals and objectives, but he or she does not make the laws. Unreasoned fear works against time and progress. When Obama was elected, the American voter made a clear statement in favor of new energy policy, health care, peace, education and new middle-class jobs. It has been a remarkable achievement that President Obama has achieved any measure of those campaign objectives. Over the past eight years, the Congress and Supreme Court froze action, repealed existing policy or passed legislation that reversed the will of the majority electorate.
This time the electorate must look down the ballot and consider those who actually negotiate legislation and make the laws.
Moderate and incremental change just won’t cut it when faced with severe and irreversible climate change. The electorate must insist on majority rule and meaningful legislation on the energy and climate objectives they supported in the Bernie Sanders campaign. Any member of Congress that impedes action with implacable ideology must face rapid and clear rejection at the ballot box.
America is the most powerful and influential nation on Earth. This election will influence the future of the world. The American electorate must keep their foot on the necks of politicians in this election and in the future.