Shocked into Action

With Gore winning the Nobel and issues such as the droughts in Atlanta; it is becoming harder and harder for the United States to ignore today’s environment issues. Though actions are being taken at the state level, America – a supposed leader in technology and research – is lagging far behind European nations. It will take leadership from the new president to move the situation forward. As mentioned in this NYT article, Martin Luther King did not make a speech called “I have a nightmare”, it was “I have a dream”.

A large part of the laziness can be attributed to cheap oil, free water and abundant natural resources. People and their economies change only when the price point forces them to. Oil at 100$ has led many Americans to look at their SUVs in a new light. However, it is going to take much more than fuel efficient SUVs to turn the situation around.

Green technology may be a large part of the┬ásolution to America’s current economic woes. An interesting article in Harper’s outlined the possibility of America pumping tons of cash into green tech to boost the economy to compensate for the recent collapse of the housing bubble. Massive investment in clean technology would allow America to create knowledge intensive jobs and reduce their dependance on foreign oil.

America could launch a new “space race” towards sustainability. It would mobilize a population and place them at the center of the world stage. The original space race started with the shocking launch of the soviet satellite, Sputnik and led to a massive push towards technology and unimaginable dreams, it was a time when anything seemed possible. The offshoots of that effort created much of today’s economy – computers, networks, and modern day communication. We shall see if McCain, Obama or Clinton can launch a country towards sustainability as JFK launched the world towards the moon.

Published on March 23, 2008