Let's Stop Ignoring the Obvious
David Rippe and Jared Rosen
Many Americans are oblivious to the energy they waste. We don't see the connection between our lack of energy conservation, cruising around in cars that get poor gas mileage, high fuel prices, wars in the Middle East and global warming. We're disconnected from the repercussions of our actions and habits. We'll drive on toward oblivion, complaining all the way.
All Americans could significantly reduce their energy consumption, save lots of money, and reduce pollution at the same time. It's an easy choice to make. Unfortunately, most people don't want to make even the slightest sacrifice. In the upside-down world described in our book, The Flip (www.theflip.net), people do not correlate unbridled consumption of finite resources like coal and oil with personal responsibility. The United States comprises 4% of the earth's population but we consume over 25% of its energy. We think it is our God-given right to live excessively. Well, it's certainly a choice, but it is not a right.
Upside down consumers think there is an endless supply of energy, and if not, we'll find some other technology in the future to supply our needs. But energy supply is only a part of the problem. The burning of fossil fuels, along with other devastating human activities, is causing serious damage to our environment, precipitating global warming on an unprecedented scale. Yes, there are those who deny global warming exists. But, seriously, there is no debate. There is only doubt stirred by big-pocket business interests to distract and misinform. The facts have been settled, global warming is real, it's dangerous, and it's cooking a neighborhood near you.
That a capitalistic powerhouse like the United States needs energy resources to secure and maintain its dominance is easy to grasp. Energy runs our factories, lights our homes, fuels our cars, illuminates our television sets, keeps us warm and provides a hundred other positive benefits. We are not arguing that energy usage is bad. We are only stating that in the upside-down world, mindless consumption is not only selfish and irresponsible, but dangerous and potentially deadly for our children, grandchildren and all future generations.
The question is not whether abundant energy is useful; rather what are the cheapest, most reliable, renewable sources of energy? We are informed that energy production and consumption is a complicated matter that we shouldn't worry our pretty little heads about. The people who control the energy supply profess to be of, by, and for the people, but in fact operate solely in the best interest of their profits. And the profits are huge. Those at the top of the energy food chain do quite well.
• 4 of the 7 most profitable companies in the upside-down world are oil companies-Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Chevron
• Here is the 2005 breakdown in profit, not sales, profit
• Exxon Mobil made $31.6 billion
• Royal Dutch Shell made $25.3 billion
• BP made $21.7 billion
• Chevron made $14.1 billion
• Combined the four oil companies made $92.7 billion in profit in 2005
• Total value of these four companies is nearly $1 trillion
The Bush Administration and our corrupt Congress didn't feel that was enough profit so plopped a cherry on top of the sundae with $14.5 billion worth of tax breaks and incentives via the industry-friendly Energy Bill passed in August 2005. We don't begrudge anyone the right to make a profit. A modest profit seems reasonable, especially if funds are reinvested in research and development for alternative technologies to harness renewable sources. What we find perturbing is the brazen gouging and massive profiteering. Recent headlines about BP forging Alaskan pipeline inspection documents and coercing workers to lie clearly show the "profit above people" mentality of Big Oil.
Something must be done.
The Apollo Alliance (www.apolloalliance.org) is perhaps the best conceived, most far-reaching energy initiative ever envisioned, a true-blue flip. Modeled after the bold mission announced by John F. Kennedy to put a man on the moon, the Apollo Alliance seeks to do use the same "can-do" spirit to achieve a secure supply of clean, affordable and sustainable energy. It seeks to rally the country around a green economy that will create millions of jobs, clean up the environment, and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
Apollo offers a plan that makes so much sense that only the most jaded and greedy among us in the upside-down world can reject it. It is not based on unreachable pie-in-the-sky dreams, but rather sound, achievable science and technology. We love it! Here is their 10 Point Plan:
1. Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars
2. Invest in More Efficient Factories
3. Encourage High Performance Building
4. Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances
5. Modernize Electrical Infrastructure
6. Expand Renewable Energy Development
7. Improve Transportation Options
8. Reinvest in Smart Urban Growth
9. Plan for a Hydrogen Future (a green one)
10. Strengthen Regulatory Protections
What might be achieved with the realization of Apollo? Economically, we can expect to add 3.3 million much-needed American jobs, stimulate $1.4 trillion in Gross Domestic Product and produce $284 billion in net energy cost savings.
Environmentally, we can reduce national energy consumption by 16%, reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 28%; reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 23%; reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 13%. Other major benefits include reducing our dependence on foreign oil, restoration of America's withering leadership in technological innovation, reduction of our burgeoning trade deficit, rebuilding of our aging infrastructure, and improved social equity for low income workers by increasing job access and mobility.
How much will it cost, you wisely ask? A modest investment of $300 billion over ten years-or less than what Bush, Inc. has spent prosecuting the Iraq War to date. This seems a paltry sum given the opportunity to eliminate the need for such wars to begin with, save our environment, and reduce our energy costs. In the Right Side Up world, we'd already be implementing Apollo. So what's the hard part?
First, we have to get beyond the staid thinking and status quo investments of the current administration and its energy industry masters. They are not part of the problem-they are actually the root cause and have no intention of finding solutions. One recent outrageous example of this is the unconscionable Pentagon action, at the behest of the Administration, which placed a moratorium on building new wind farms under the guise of national security.
We need an Apollo program to ramp up the production of clean and green technology. We cannot allow government officials and industry leaders to play dice with the atmosphere of our planet. Find your voice. Show your support for common sense solutions like the Apollo Alliance by calling your elected officials and contacting the media. Right now.
We envision the day when you can harness the sun's inextinguishable power to generate electricity from your own rooftop or turn your garbage into hydrogen fuel right in your garage. Imagine being that self-sufficient. Imagine a secure nation with no pipelines and power stations for terrorists to target. Imagine no more wars for oil. Imagine your children growing up playing under blue skies, drinking clean water. Imagine taking a deep refreshing breath, filling your lungs with the life force, feeling invigorated. Can you see it?