As I’ve noted in numerous posts, it is clear to me that the political aspects of renewable energy are far more important than the science in actually making this happen. I just had a phone conversation with a friend in which I discussed how my viewpoint on the subject has changed over time. 15 years ago, I was a libertarian: I saw nothing but corruption in government, and I didn’t see many activities that the private sector couldn’t perform better and more efficiently than the public sector. I remember taking my five-year-old son to the polls. He sat on my shoulders, looking down as I voted, announcing to the room, “Libertarian! Libertarian! Libertarian!” I hated to curb his enthusiasm for the democratic process, but I had to give him a big “shhh!”
But look around you. The government has probably not gotten any less corrupt. But if we don’t have some power that is forceful enough and honest enough to rein in corporate malfeasance and greed, it’s very clear where we’re going. Do you think Chevron will voluntarily stop pumping oil until the last drop is sucked out of the earth? Do you think BP is going to leave a trillion barrels of profit down there unless they’re forced to? It’s just simply not going to happen.
I know we’re all worried about moving in the direction of socialism – a concern that I share. But, like most things in life, it’s just not that easy — regardless of what Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck tell us. Unless one has the same lack of regard for the health and safety of the 6.8 billion people who live on this planet as the oil companies most obviously do, it’s clear: we need a solution that looks beyond unbridled free-market capitalism.
Readers of this blog – and all others who are trying to pay attention — are reminded of this pickle several times a day. And we who are enjoying the PBS special on the National Parks are realizing that the reckless over-industrialization of America is a traditional that has continued unabated since the 19th century.
But can’t we see the reason? For every John Muir, who, for whatever reason, was not that enamored of money, there were thousands of people who didn’t see it that way, and either led the charge for industrialization, or profited from it less directly and looked the other way at the human and environmental devastation it wreaked. Then, as now, there was no equalizing force, restraining the greed of powerful, ruthless people.
Again, we need a solution. May we work together to find one. As always, I welcome comments.