Clean energy is our moon shot
My background is as a long-time fiscal conservative. I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years, a combat F-16 pilot for 16 of those years. I have lived in the Fresno/Clovis area for 23 years, and have a wife and three children. This is our home, and we want to keep it a healthy, strong and vibrant for myself, my children and their future families. In recent years, my politics have moved from Republican to the un-aligned "independent" column due to a lack of leadership by either party. But I remain optimistic that the two warring parties can come together and address critical areas of global warming and climate change.
I recently heard an essay at the Fresno regional conference of Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL). CCL is a citizen-led lobbying group whose sole purpose is to persuade members of Congress to pass a consumer-friendly carbon tax that will speed the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
The essay, by physicist and small business owner Peter Fiekowsky, was titled "Our new moon shot: Restore a healthy climate by 2070."
Fiekowsky, an MIT graduate who formerly worked in infrared astrophysics at NASA, wrote this as a positive outlook of our future that we can achieve by taking decisive action to reduce the threat of climate change.
He starts by comparing the current situation with President John F. Kennedy's speech in 1961 to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Many Americans thought it was complete folly at the time. However, we had a clear and ambitious goal and deadline, and we rose to the occasion.We can do the same thing with the climate. Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson wrote in 2009 that we could switch the world's energy from fossil fuels to renewables by 2045. Jacobson affirms that we can get 100% of global energy by using solar, wind and hydropower.
The greater Fresno area already is the greatest producer of clean solar power per capita in the United States.
Imagine a San Joaquin Valley with clean energy, clean air and a strong, growing renewable energy industry. It already is happening, but a legislative push is needed to really get us moving.Wind generation has been growing over 25% per year for the past six years. It provides 3% of our electricity now. If we maintain that growth rate, it will provide 50% by 2025. Solar provides 1% of our electricity now, and it is growing over 50% a year. If we keep that pace, it will provide 50% of our electricity by 2025. Energy efficiency will provide at least a 30% reduction in our requirements.
China is working hard to slash its fossil fuel consumption and severe air pollution. Since 2012, China has built more new wind capacity than coal capacity, and the New York Times reported China is expected to reduce its net coal imports to zero by 2015. India is starting work on the world's largest solar panel -- 4 gigawatts.
So why do we invent the clean energy technologies here in the U.S., just to export the technology, production, wealth and independence they create to foreign countries?
We have viable tools in the proposed revenue neutral carbon tax/dividend legislation that we could put in place right now. The logical place for the U.S. to be is the global leader in renewable energy.
Fiekowsky promotes two policies that are critical to achieve our rapid transition to renewables:First, a gradually increasing carbon tax, such as the proposed legislation from the Citizens' Climate Lobby, as recommended by almost all economists.
Second, promoting investment in clean energy. Fossil fuels still receive six times more subsidies than renewables.
Fiekowsky then ends with this call to action:"Tell your children, President Obama and your representatives the legacy you want to leave: A healthy climate by 2070. That is our moon shot. There is room for small government fans and everyone else to contribute in this game."
I agree. But I believe political will starts at home, here in the San Joaquin Valley. The proposed revenue neutral carbon tax/dividend legislation is a win for both major parties, because it is good for all the people of the San Joaquin Valley.
Let's shoot for the moon!
Pete Moe is a resident of Clovis and a captain for FedEx Express Corp.