Acting in a Big Way

By Jack A. Smith

It is time for the United States government to launch a crash program to swiftly replace the use of climate-changing fossil fuels with solar, wind and other renewable clean energy sources.

The U.S. insists it be recognized and followed as the “world leader,” but it is leading the world toward an ecological catastrophe. America has dumped more toxic substances into the atmosphere in the last 100 years than any other country by far and it must act now.

The Republicans and big business are major roadblocks to any progress. The Democrats aren’t denying the existence of climate change, but aren’t doing much either. True leadership from the White House must find ways to overcome political obstructions but we do not have such leadership today.

Soon after the Obama Administration announced that it was going to allow more “safe” offshore drilling, the British Petroleum oil spill took place close to the Gulf Coast.

Soon after the Obama Administration announced that natural gas was a designated “safe” energy source – while theoretically weaning the U.S. away from the use of even dirtier fossil fuels such as oil – hydraulic fracturing (fracking), an important means of increasing the extraction of such gas, was shown to be extremely dangerous.

Soon after the Obama Administration announced that “clean” coal was also a safe “bridge” fuel for eliminating regular coal until all fossil fuels could be replaced, scientists showed that “clean” coal was dirty.

And now, soon after the Obama Administration unwisely announced that building more nuclear power plants in the U.S. was a safe replacement for fossil fuels, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami destroyed several nuclear plants and raised the possibility of a disastrous meltdown.

At this point, the U.S. is doing virtually nothing to reduce the use of fossil fuels. One of the arguments for inaction is that the U.S. does not have the money for a serious crash program which would cost trillions.

Nonsense! America is the richest country in the world. It’s spending trillions on unnecessary wars while reducing the taxes of its obscenely rich, top 5 percent of the population.

End the wars, sharply reduce the “defense” budget, increase taxes on the rich and the corporations and stock dividends, create green jobs and use the White House as a bully pulpit to break through the political roadblock on climate change and a few other things that the country and the people need.

The only way this can be done is if the American people get organized and fight for it – the way the public unions and their supporters are fighting in Wisconsin and elsewhere. If we believe in democracy and the power of the people, we know the task can be accomplished, one way or another. Obviously this means acting in a big way, not just trifling around the edges of change.