American Waste: America’s refusal to go green

A poll conducted by private research group Ipsos concluded that skepticism regarding climate change in the United States was one of the highest out of the several nation’s surveyed. The Huffington Post reported that United Nations climate change official Christiana Figueres as saying, “skepticism around climate is abating.”

It is comforting to know that the American public is finally getting with the program; better late than never I suppose. But even in the wake of our denial, the United States as a whole seems far behind in the advancement and implementation of sustainable energy from a national standpoint.

An article via Truthdig.com seems to further illustrate the shortcomings regarding national sustainability. The article catalogues the success of clean energy movement Energiewende (German for “energy transformation”) which since 2000 has converted more than 25 percent of Germany’s power grid to solar, wind and biomass energy. Additionally, the German government supplies a great deal of incentives to citizens who invest in renewable energy. The movement has been so successful in fact that the group hopes to achieve their goal of 80-100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050.

This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for Germany. It would be for any nation being able to boast almost 100 percent renewable energy. But the kicker is who inspired Germany’s green movement over 40 years ago: The United States.

The article claims that the German populace is “baffled that the United States have not taken the same path” and credit former president Jimmy Carter for inspiring such progressive action. Frankly, I too, am surprised at the seeming disregard of solutions for an obvious problem.

This lack of action on the part of the American government is due to high levels of greed and arrogance instilled in our country’s ideology. In his article, columnist Thomas Hedges writes: “The death of an American Energiewende solidified when President Ronald Reagan ripped down the solar panels atop the White House that Carter had installed,” which I take as a giant middle-finger to American progress and unity as a whole. It really speaks to the arrogance of American culture to acknowledge that there are solutions to a problem as serious as this and simply dismisses those solutions.

All too often, politicians see the possibilities for changes in the U.S. that benefit the nation as a whole almost as a sign of weakness. The American government would rather oversee the bloodletting of its valuable resources than even attempt to provide its citizens with the incentives they need in order to create a higher quality of life. Hedges adds that a recent report shows that “the U.S. is on track to become the leading oil and gas producer by 2020, which suggests that the U.S. has the capability to match Germany’s green movement, but is instead using its resources to deepen its dependency on fossil fuels.”

It would appear that the United States, as one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world, does in fact have the means to create such a system, but in the spirit of American tradition, it maintains its focus on monetary gains instead of the well-being of its citizens.

 

Reach the columnist at schergos@asu.edu or follow him at @shawnchergorsky

 

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