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A Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society

October 1st, 2007 · 27 Comments

Peak Oil. Gas Prices. Global Warming.

There are real problems and real threats with terrifying implications that merit response.  

Yet, threat and crisis creates opportunity.

We have, before us/US, an opportunity for transformation.

For responding to threat and handling crisis to create something better, to turn to a better path.

And, well, the question becomes how to frame and describe that opportunity.  

How about this?

Objective 2050:  A Propserous and Climate-Friendly Society

In discussing Global Warming and its threats, people call for 50% (catastrophic), 70% (disasterous), 80% (marginal), 90% (probably enough) reduction in carbon emissions 2050. With all due respect those speaking to 2050,  such numbers are far too abstract for far too many people.  And, well, 43 years from now is a difficult thing for so many people to take seriously. And, well, that is why 1 Sky and others are calling for specific targets in the near term. 1 Sky, for example, calls for three items:

  1. Mobilize America for five million green jobs with conserving 20 percent of US energy by 2015.
  1.  Freeze climate pollution levels now and cut at least 30% by 2020, and at least 80% by 2050
  1.  Freeze coal until they can be carbon-dioxide free

Yes, there is a 2050 target, but there are near-term objectives that people can cling to.  These are meaningful goals, providing objectives in the near term that will seriously turn the nation to a better path.

And, 1 Sky, Step It Up (which I urge all to participate in/join … strongly) and othersApollo Alliance, Energize America and others speak to the real opportunities that can emerge if we respond to these challenges in a serious way.

And, well, speaking to opportunity is critical.  

It is easy to paint Peak Oil and/or Global Warming in doom and gloom terms.  The reality and potential future paths are, well, terrifying.  Doom/gloom is easy to provide, whether it is discussing the potential for a Die Off in the face of oil depletion or havoc caused by Global Warming.  But, doom and gloom is as likely to ‘turn off’ people as mobilize them.

American Environics just released an energy survey (pdf) that suggests that ‘doom/gloom’ scenarios are not shifting public opinion demands for action.

“Telling voters that global warming will lead to environmental disaster did not lead to increased support for action on global warming,” noted Dr. John Whaley who conducted the survey for American Environics.

That is fearful, to me, but note the term “environmental disaster”.  Americans have been inculcated with a belief structure that “environment” is somehow separate, something outside of ourselves, rather than the home we live within.

“In addition, when voters were told that specific proposals would lead to higher energy costs, support for policies to limit carbon dropped dramatically.”

Also, fearful.  Forget any support, I guess, for Dingell’s dingbat proposal on Global Warming.  But, again, note the language/implication:  ”higher energy costs”.  Well, how are we defining “cost”?  Do we count health issues caused by energy pollution?  What about reduced total ownership costs (TOC) through paying upfront for energy efficiency?  What about …  And, well, how would the money be spent?  Would this be a Capitalism 3.0 approach where all would share the financial benefits from charges for (ab)use of our commons? And, where revenues would go to advancing energy options and improving the energy economy?  Or, would these revenues disappear into government coffers (a la Dingell’s dingbat proposal on Global Warming)?

And, according to this polling, this matters.

“What I find particularly intriguing is that the vast majority of voters (70%) think the evidence is ‘solid’ that the earth is warming, but remain more concerned about deficits and crime, and nearly as concerned about taxes than they are about the climatic shift that will no doubt have a bigger effect on their lives and their children’s lives than any of those issues,” noted Alex Evans, Principal at EMC Research. “It is clear to me that scaring people is not the way to get them to act particularly when they display such a strong interest in clean energy and American ingenuity.  Again, we find that Americans respond better when we appeal to their native optimism.”

Again, terrifying.  Talk of the evil boogeyman of “taxes” has as much (if not more) power than core concerns about their children’s lives and very ability to have a decent future.

The strong support for action to achieve energy independence, create new jobs, and lower the cost of renewable energy sources provides an opportunity to overcome voter anxiety over energy to confront global warming.

The power of the perhaps disingenuous “energy independence” frame … it sounds so good.

But, let us bring the discussion back.

* We must take action. * Many ‘targets” are inadequate * The “targets” for dealing with Global Warming are confusing * Even convinced Americans are uncertain about paying for dealing with Global Warming * Benefit-based discussions resonate better with the publicWell, the
Energize America team didn’t do so poorly.  From the introduction to the 20-point plan (v 5.0, 2006, pdf):

Objectives
To provide the U.S. with Energy Security by 2020 and Energy Independence by 2040 by: 1) reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75%, 2) reducing oil imports by 50%, 3) generating 25% of electricity from renewable sources, and 4) creating or preserving over three million new jobs by 2020.

Note that end point, three million new jobs by 2020. (Well, okay, 1Sky is beyond this … which is one (of many) reasons I support 1 Sky.)  Thus, nearer term targets, with a positive objective as part of the path to solve terrifyingly serious problems.

Yet …

How to describe that end result … what is the target .. back to the very start of this discussion.  How about stating objectives in decade terms?

Objective 2010:  Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy prioritized; carbon emission cut by 10% from 2007 levels

Objective 2020:  America on the Rebound.  30% of American electricity from renewable power. At least, 7.5 million new jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  At least a 30% reduction in global warming causing emissions.

And, so on, until …

Objective 2050:  A Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society.
What does this mean?

Objective:  a target to strive for, the optimum, something that is achievable, even though we need to work hard to get there.

2050:  The mid-century, emphasizes that this is long term, an objective that requires concerted, continued effort, for generations to come.

Prosperous: that the opportunity will be there for achieving “the American Dream” — an opportunity available to all.  Prosperity — we will be richer if we turn away from today’s heavily-pulluting and wasteful energy habits. Prosperity — in health, financial, security terms.

Climate-Friendly: Greenhouse Gas (GHG)/Carbon neutral, preferable even carbon negative, figuring out ways to actually removed carbon from the atmosphere in meaningful amounts to seek to restore ‘natural’ levels of variation to turn the clock back on Global Warming, to foster global remediation of the damage we have caused.  This is an objective — a stretch goal — that would provide the path more likely to avoid utter climate catastrophe than some X% target. Also, well, 100% is easier to explain than 90% — it is time to remove humanity’s pollution above ‘background’/natural levels. It is possible to see a path there and to follow it.

Society: This is greater than “economy” and, well, this is greater than any single nation.  

A Prosperous and Climate-Friendly Society

A world and vision to fight for …

Tags: Global Warming

27 responses so far ↓

  • 1 “The Chinese Sputnik”? « Energy Smart // Oct 8, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    [...] to seize a leading position in this critical arena as part of a path to Energize America toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly Society.  Will we achieve this shocked into action by others?  Or, will it remain simply beyond [...]

  • 2 “The Chinese Sputnik”? » Celsias // Oct 9, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    [...] to seize a leading position in this critical arena as part of a path to Energize America toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly Society? Will we achieve this shocked into action by others? Or, will it remain simply beyond [...]

  • 3 30 Days to Save the Mountains: What’s Right With Kansas? « Energy Smart // Oct 20, 2007 at 4:01 am

    [...] dream Almost Heaven alive, and help West Virginia (and West Virginians) find a path toward a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society. [...]

  • 4 Planet “on a hair trigger” … « Energy Smart // Oct 22, 2007 at 3:44 am

    [...] this target, that this could be too little, too late.  Perhaps, instead, we should strive for a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society and living a carbon-negative life [...]

  • 5 Mad world …. « Energy Smart // Oct 26, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    [...] consume more pollutants to those who live less polluting lives. * The other 50 percent to foster a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society (including remediation of damage already done and dealing with adapting to that already done [...]

  • 6 Energizing America … Cities leading the way « Energy Smart // Oct 29, 2007 at 5:42 am

    [...] There are many rows to hoe to foster an Energy Smart culture, one that will enable us to create a Prosperous, Climate Friendly Society.  Being Energy Smart begins at Home, but individuals will not, cannot create this path toward a [...]

  • 7 “Put the Heat on these people!” Senator Kerry says … (2) « Energy Smart // Nov 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    [...] to start the ball rolling (seriously), to get the United States moving on the path toward a prosperous, climate-friendly society. [...]

  • 8 Old Europe: DeTaxing its way to a better future? « Energy Smart // Nov 3, 2007 at 3:33 am

    [...] Sarkozy’s noise about going green might not just be noise, that he might be quite serious about seeking to Energize France and Energize Europe toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly Society. [...]

  • 9 Energy Bookshelf: From the President’s Desk « Energy Smart // Nov 17, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    [...] Let me make clear, this is a book to read. It is one that I would hope is read by every Presidential candidate and their staffs.  It should be on the reading list on the Hill, in editorial offices, in university course on governance, and elsewhere.  Sandalow has, in my opinion, done an excellent job of making a highly complex arena approachable by all while maintaining a quality that keeps expert engaged.  This is a work meriting the time with all concerned about finding paths to Energize America toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly Society. [...]

  • 10 “What’s the wisest thing to do …” « Energy Smart // Nov 21, 2007 at 4:49 am

    [...] some of us believe that the necessity and opportunity is before us to Energize America toward a prosperous, climate friendly society.  If you agree, join usin trying to create that better reality. We can all help make America [...]

  • 11 Dog training // Nov 27, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Very interesting… as always! Cheers from -Switzerland-.

  • 12 Imagine Life Differently: New Year’s Resolution revisited « Energy Smart // Jan 2, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    [...] As part of those efforts, a year ago, I accepted. No, I embraced DannyInLA’s Challenge.  A year ago, I promised to and repledge to diligently challenge those who seek to maintain a path hurtling over that cliff, whether that is inefficient Christmas light displays, McSUVs, not recyling aluminum cans, challenging astroturf or Global Warming enablers (like Robert J Samuelson). I will CHALLENGE those who threaten a path toward a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society. [...]

  • 13 Pages tagged "prosperous" // Jan 10, 2008 at 5:32 am

    [...] online community. The best part is … it’s all 100% free! Check them out here: Join Hey Nielsen! A Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society saved by 1 others     iluvlivapool bookmarked on 01/09/08 | [...]

  • 14 ENERGIZE AMERICA via a Stimulus Package « Energy Smart // Jan 24, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    [...] Energize America and the Globe toward a Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society requires smart investment, a choice to turn our paths on energy usage from unsustainable, polluting [...]

  • 15 Energy Smart from Illinois? Foster in Congress … « Energy Smart // Mar 9, 2008 at 5:41 am

    [...] can put on the table.  Foster should serve as a substantive voice to help guide US policy toward a prosperous, climate-friendly society.  He also is a successful businessman, which colors his positions both in good and, as will be [...]

  • 16 Vote Energy Smart, not Energy Dumb! « Energy Smart // Apr 2, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    [...] will help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly America through dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil and Global [...]

  • 17 VB Dems » Blog Archive » Vote Energy Smart (Nye) Not Energy Dumb (Drake) // Apr 3, 2008 at 3:55 am

    [...] “help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a “Prosperous, Climate Friendly America” through dealing with the challenges of peak oil and global [...]

  • 18 Antarctic is NOT cooling!!! … expanded « Energy Smart // Apr 7, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    [...] that to distort discussion and hamper moves toward changing humanity’s path forward toward a prosperous, climate-friendly society. Here are just a few examples of [...]

  • 19 Act Blue for the Earth « Energy Smart // Apr 22, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    [...] will help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly America through dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil and Global [...]

  • 20 Buying our way to a better planet … « Energy Smart // Apr 24, 2008 at 11:30 am

    [...] choice. There is a challenge between using financial mechanisms as a tool to move toward a A Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society and going [...]

  • 21 Energy Smart Jeff « Energy Smart // Jul 14, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    [...] will help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly America through dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil and Global [...]

  • 22 Get Energy Smart! NOW!!! » Blog Archive » Energy Smart Scott // Jul 24, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    [...] will help foster a Congress and political climate conducive for more meaningful action toward a Prosperous, Climate Friendly America through dealing with the challenges of Peak Oil and Global [...]

  • 23 Elation to Confusion to Elation Again: The Obama Appointments roller-coaster when it comes to energy and environmental issues // Dec 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    [...] appointments merits, without question, elation on the part of those concerned about fostering a prosperous and climate-friendly future for America, Americans, and the rest of [...]

  • 24 Not even a rubber mallet? Do “Climate Change Leaders” know how to play hardball? // Jun 17, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    [...] framework that provides any real hope for putting us (the United States) on a path toward a secure, prosperous and climate-friendly future:  Do climate-change leaders know how to play political [...]

  • 25 The Most Environmentally Unfriendly Super Bowl Ad // Feb 8, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    [...] viewer reinforces a distorted view of what can and should happen as America moves forward toward a prosperous, climate friendly, clean-energy [...]

  • 26 Buy our way to a better planet? // Aug 18, 2010 at 1:44 am

    [...] between using financial mechanisms as a tool to move toward a A Prosperous, Climate-Friendly Society and going [...]

  • 27 “Climate change: it’s even worse than we think” // Nov 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    [...] Looking at this list, it is clear that it is well past time to begin an “education process” and certainly (past) time to be in a World War II-like mobilization to change humanity toward a low-carbon, prosperous, climate-friendly future. [...]

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