Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 24 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/5/17

On John Anderson -- A Brief Essay

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Message Siegfried Othmer
Become a Fan
  (3 fans)

As Los Angeles was once again being buffeted by high winds, with early morning sunlight giving an overcast sky of smoke and haze an eerie, ominous gray-orange glow, I found myself thinking back upon John Anderson and the path not taken back in 1980. Later that morning, I peeled back the pages of the newspaper and found John Anderson's obituary.

In his quixotic campaign for the Presidency back in 1980, liberal Republican John Anderson surfaced a great idea for charting a course back toward energy independence--after the oil embargo of 1973 had nicked the economy and sent us into a period of hyper-inflation. He proposed a virtual tax on gasoline. The tax would be scheduled to ramp up significantly in future years, and thus influence present buying decisions without exacting a huge penalty in the present moment.

Imagine for just a moment if that had been done. We would not then have had the Hummer madness, the Ford Extinction, and the other aspects of automotive excess. General Motors would not have turned its back on the EV-1, which would likely have meant GM leadership in hybrids rather than Toyota. We would have realized that it was foolish to turn out the lights on solar energy as Reagan did. The technology that now populates rooftops in Germany was available to us in the eighties. The major oil companies all bought their own solar energy companies in order to be part of the new era. After Reagan, they got sold off again, left to fend for themselves.

Oil companies would have seen their dominance of the economy diminish, and the OPEC countries would not have seen their treasuries swell to the same degree. Priorities might have been different, with earlier concern about transitioning to a non-oil future, and with less zeal for funding terrorism. By the arrival of the 21st century, there would not have been quite the lust for control of Iraqi oil resources. Israel would have had less leverage over our foreign policy as the aspiring Middle Eastern hegemon.

Today's severe wind in Los Angeles brings me back to appraise the present moment. There have been times recently when the wind was so strong that one could not move forward against it. That is new. Winds have been getting noticeably stronger over the past several years. That is what is expected with global warming. Weather patterns simply get more severe--in both directions. Extreme cold spells do not subtract from the case for global warming. They add to it. They are part of the same story of increased atmospheric turbulence and variability.

We now know that the majority of the acreage lost to major fires in California over the past several years is attributable to power-lines, yet another consequence of strengthening winds. Wind strengths are transgressing technologically relevant thresholds. But matters are even worse.

(Image by NoGoodNG)
  Details   DMCA

Last spring my wife and I were hiking in the local mountains, surrounded by fields of spring flowers as far as the eye could see. One would have expected this bounty to be enjoyed by lots of insects. But there were hardly any to be seen. It was, however, a windy day, and for the first time I confronted the reality that insects face a very different threshold with respect to wind than we do. On another day, we experienced the same. Vast fields of flowers without insects. It was once again a windy, no-fly day.

Shortly thereafter, I read in Science Magazine, the premier science journal of the American scientific community, that Germany has already lost 80% of its insects. This is the land in which environmental sensitivity is a matter of national policy. So perhaps the insects I was looking for weren't merely hunkering down. Perhaps they were not even there.

When do we start to worry that perhaps matters are veering out of our control? We don't have another degree of headroom left in terms of rise in earth temperature. Things are bad enough already. We may make policy linearly, but nature responds non-linearly.

It's a few decades late, but we need a virtual tax on carbon that ramps up steeply, forcing the policy changes that must occur in any event, but without delivering too much of a shock in the near term. The carbon tax should be sufficient to fund the conversion to the carbon-free energy future that we badly need.

Rate It | View Ratings

Siegfried Othmer Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Siegfried Othmer is a physicist who over the last 33 years has been engaged with neurofeedback as a technique for the rehabilitation and enhancement of brain function. He is Chief Scientist at the EEG Institute in Los Angeles. Coming to (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Russian monument in memory of 9/11

Stranger in the South

The Descent into Tyranny

Re fitness to serve, we have things backwards

The Path Not Taken

The Predator-Prey Society

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend