In the Vice Presidential Debate the GOP ticket again attacked the Obama administration’s investment in clean energy. Congressman Paul Ryan called the $90 billion in stimulus funding “green pork” that was given specifically to campaign contributors and special interest groups. The Romney camp isn’t too fond of fact checkers, but this statement is blatantly false on two accounts.
One, as the AP notes, much of that $90 billion was “given to people to make their homes more energy efficient, grants to public entities constructing high speed rail lines and tax credits to manufacturers to install equipment fostering cleaner energy.”
Vice President Biden also notably pointed out that Congressman Ryan asked for stimulus funding to create jobs in his own Wisconsin district. Indeed, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the stimulus saved or created 3 million jobs.
Two, despite in depth investigations, there has been no wrongdoing found of clean energy stimulus money being given unethically.
But all the facts are neither here nor there. If we look to the larger picture, $90 billion should be the least of our worries. If you look at the consequences of global warming – rising sea levels, increased extreme weather events such as hurricanes and droughts, and ocean acidification (to name a few), $90 billion looks like pennies. Increasingly, economists are saying climate change is a clear threat to America and the global economy. Meanwhile, for the first time since 1988, climate change was not discussed in any of the presidential debates.
As a 23-year old Evangelical Christian, I look at our irresponsible energy consumption as a moral issue. Global warming is not just about the polar bear – it’s about people. When there are extreme droughts, it makes it much harder, if not impossible, for the poor to have enough food. Similarly, the ocean warming is causing fish stocks to deplete, making it much more difficult for people, particularly in the developing world, to have a reliable source of protein. Ultimately, this is about human lives, with estimates that as many as 100 million people will die by 2030 from consequences of climate change.
So what are we to do? Despite all the climate change denier camps spreading misinformation like North Korea reporting invented sport scores, 97% of climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and we are the cause. And let’s be real – the other 3% are the “scientists” who on the whole are curiously receiving their funding from the fossil fuel industry and the Koch Brothers camp.
Call me naive, but I know as a nation we can come up with a solution to our energy problem. Frankly, $90 billion isn’t enough – not even close. What we need is a new moon race. John F. Kennedy declared in 1961 that by the end of the decade an American would be standing on the moon. During those years when we were racing to beat the Soviets to the moon, we witnessed a technology revolution. We came together as a nation, our economy prospered, and we achieved something that would have been thought as inconceivable only a few years prior.
We have the brains, power and ingenuity to create clean, renewable energy right here at home. This will create millions of jobs, jobs members of my generation want to have right here in the US. This race to clean energy will also make us a safer nation, and alleviate, if not eliminate completely, numerous diseases caused by fossil fuel pollution. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you can’t deny that the positive ends sought here.
Undoubtedly the fossil fuel industry, the most profitable business mankind has ever seen, will put up a fight – they already are. But the consequences are just too great for us to accept the status quo. God gave us this planet and told us to be good stewards of it. We’re not doing such a good job.
Let’s stop playing games. Let’s come together as one people and set our eyes to a new future. Let’s compete with other nations to become the most sustainable, clean-energy run country in the world. Let’s win this race.
Drew Robinson is Director of the Good Steward Campaign, an initiative to mobilize Christians in the Millennial Generation to speak out for action to build a green economy and fight climate change.