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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/27/11

How Might We Avert the Economic & Environmental Catastrophe That Approaches

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 The only solution is for developed countries to greatly decrease their levels of consumption.   Otherwise we're going to have to keep burning mountains of coal as we continue by that means to destroy our environment, our ecosystem, our economy and our health -- as we proceed ever further into debt (national and personal), in order to purchase the extraordinary surplus of manufactured crap, much of it built to wear out sooner rather than later.


How to cut overall consumption in the USA (the country that must lead the way)?   Twelve steps:


  1. A five dollar a gallon tax on gasoline, with compensatory subsidies for low-income commuters, truckers etc.   Plus a tax on employers who hire people that live more than 10 miles away from work.   The more the commute miles, the greater the tax.
  2. A law requiring all utility companies to buy (for 7x the going rate) any excess electricity generated by homeowners and businesses that have their roofs covered with PhotoVoltaic cells -- just as is now done in Germany, where such measures have so far eliminated the need to build and operate eight (8) additional nuclear reactors.   Where to get some of the money for such compensation to those who cover their roofs with PV cells?   From the steep gasoline taxes referenced in item #1.
  3. Fat federal subsidies for the purchase of wind turbines and electric-battery-operated cars, the oversized batteries in which can store, and be used to put back onto the grid, any excess electricity generated from either privately owned wind turbines operating at night and/or roof-top PV-cell arrays operating over the weekend.   How to get all this temporarily, auto-battery-stored electricity back on the grid?   Every employer of any size must be mandated by law to have hookups for the automobile of every employee who drives such a battery-operated car.   Such hookups could transfer, and measure, as much electricity as each auto owner wanted his car to part with, each day, so that the owner could be properly compensated (at 7x the going rate, as before) for all electricity thereby supplied to the grid.   Again, this is already successfully being done with prototype systems in Germany.
  4. Nonprofit organizations, subsidized by the government, that would train and supervise people who want to build and or refurbish ecologically designed homes and other permaculture arrangements.
  1. Progressively steeper sales taxes on all products and services except for the most basic.   The greater the price of the product or service, the steeper the sales tax rate.
  2. All roadways and rooftops should eventually be made of photovoltaic cells.
  1. Pull the U.S. military out of Europe, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.   Close down all unnecessary military bases.   Put all these former armed services people to work building green infrastructure -- things like a new electrical energy grid, massive fields of wind turbines in the Midwest, and vast solar arrays in the southwest.
  2. Stop building the X-37 space plane that is designed to deliver hydrogen bombs for a first strike on China by flying an erratic path, at Mach 4, over enemy territory so as to avoid any interceptor missiles.
  1. Rebuild and re-enforce regulations like Glass-Steagall that will help prevent another multi-trillion dollar housing pyramid scheme like the one that recently impoverished millions while enriching a few.   End the political careers of those who disagree.
  1. Stop borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn in ways that destroy the planet.
  2. Increase CO2 taxes and decrease payroll taxes.
  3. Implement real campaign finance reform so that the above-listed proposals will have some chance of being realized.


Will such measures be difficult, in fact nearly impossible, to realize?   Yes, of course.   But consider the alternative.


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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)

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