Renewable energy sources offer global chance to shed fossil fuels
As the leading national consumer of fossil fuels, the United States churns out almost a quarter of all the industrial carbon dioxide worldwide. Apologists say this is the price that must be paid in exchange for driving the global economy. Realists see such hubris as eventually undermining human viability on Earth through pollution and climate change.
U.S. inaction on its oil dependency is doubly frustrating because there are now "renewable" energy sources that offer practical alternatives to coal and oil. If the U.S. were to begin the switch to renewables now, there is every reason to expect a global win-win situation within decades, economically and environmentally.
America's passive acceptance of fossil-fuel dependence is also particularly disheartening because it is the only nation with the wealth, technological expertise and international leverage needed to lead a global energy revolution. If the U.S. does not bring its own energy juggernaut under control, then unprecedented international cooperation will be required for the world community to set a new and saner course.
U.S. President George W. Bush has already proved himself wedded to U.S. and Saudi oil interests, meaning his administration will never seriously promote alternative energies.
The probable Democratic Party presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, is a disappointment, too, for not championing this issue. His call for a "Manhattan Project" on energy appears limited to supporting more efficient cars and ethanol fuel, which -- being made from corn -- is cleaner than gasoline, but is more likely aimed at appeasing farmers than ending U.S. oil dependence.
It is no wonder this year's election has environmentalists woefully uninspired. Still, there is reason for optimism, as well as a potential field day on the horizon for investors and socially responsible lobbyists.
See also The Worldwatch Institute web pages