Cross-posted from: here
I have a column out in the Diamondback today about why despite the opposition of the fossil fuel industry, America needs to pass a strong Federal climate bill in order to thrive in the 21st century.
Clean energy: Betting on the future
This past June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a landmark global warming and clean energy bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Now Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is doing something exciting for a change by introducing the Senate counterpart to the House bill called the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.
Not surprisingly, the coal and oil lobbyists are out in full force against clean energy legislation. They’ll push the usual falsehoods about job losses and rising energy prices. Oddly, they’ll try to link them to new energy policies, rather than our current dependence on fossil fuels where people have experienced the two. They’ll make this about the economy instead of the environment. They’ll cheat.In July, a lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates, hired by the coal industry, was caught after forging 13 letters to congresspeople by posing as constituents opposing the House legislation.
In 1986, a McKinsey and AT&T study notoriously predicted there would be 900,000 cell phone subscribers by the year 2000. They missed by a factor of 120 — the number was 109 million. Right now, there are nearly 4.5 billion cell phone users. AT&T paid dearly for their mistake and entered the cell phone market late by buying another company, McCaw Cellular, for $12.6 billion. Too many energy companies are underestimating how widespread renewable energy will be in 10 years.
Throughout our history, as new technologies have developed and society’s needs have evolved, businesses have had to face a choice. Fight the future, or embrace it. It’s how we went from the horse and buggy to the car, radio to television, and VCR to DVD player.
Companies that bet right emerge and prosper over those that are wrong. Right now, the writing is on the wall for the coal and oil companies that have bet on the past. They’re going to fail.
New fuel economy standards have been set. Hybrids will get cheaper as the battery technology is improved. Plug-in hybrids and electric cars will emerge as mainstream vehicles by the middle of next decade. Gas prices will go back up once the economy recovers. Oil consumption is going nowhere but down. Over 100 coal plants have been permanently blocked. Record amounts of wind and solar power came online in 2008. Far more is expected under an administration that prioritizes and puts strong incentives on clean energy.
From June 2008 to June 2009, coal’s percentage of our energy mix has dropped 13.1 percent.
The United States has a vested interest in bringing about the future faster, and not just because of global warming. Contrary to being a popular buzzword excuse for polluting, China is investing record amounts of money and incentives into wind and solar power.
China is expected to overtake us as the world’s largest wind turbine market by 2011. Solar companies in the United States such as Applied Materials Inc. are moving to China, where the business climate for clean energy is brighter. Just like companies, countries that bet on the past for too long pay a high price.
It’s time for us to demand the senate pass a strong clean energy bill. You can’t hold back the future. Some will try, but their fate is sealed. As for ours, place your bets.
Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com
**Update 10/7/09** AP agrees clean tech if next boom