I love America. I love democracy. I love freedom and capitalism.
The biggest lie conservatives tell is to deny this is true among their political opponents. There has never been a time, in my lifetime, when this lie wasn’t told.
But democracies make mistakes. We take the easy way out of what seem intractable problems. We act only when events force us to act.
This is why the Earth is dying. It’s not the Saudis, not the Chinese, not the developing world.
The effect of methane and carbon dioxide on the global atmosphere have been known for over a century. Americans have been protesting them since 1970. The Environmental Protection Agency was created that year. Its first administrator was William Ruckelshaus, now known to history as a victim of the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
The EPA has had some successes, notably on protecting the ozone layer. But on the most important pollutants, the products of fossil fuels, they haven’t done enough.
We’ve always had other priorities.
The Biden Administration has done more on this than any of its predecessors. But the United States now produces more oil each day than any other country, more than Saudi Arabia, more than Russia. We also refine more oil than any other country, and we consume far more.
When it comes to the “green technology” that can let us harvest the abundance of the Sun and the Wind, we’re lagging China badly. It’s China that builds the most solar panels, China that leads in batteries, China that makes the most electric cars.
This is true despite the U.S. having more people coming up with green solutions than any other nation. Americans have perfected the use of perovskite in solar cells, a cheap material that will dramatically improve efficiency. American scientists keep coming up with breakthroughs in battery materials, in mass energy storage, in new and safer wind turbines.
But this progress isn’t getting to market because the enemies of progress have the same liberty as its proponents. Our courts have allowed direct foreign interference in our elections. Oil lobbyists spread disinformation , even denying that what we see with our own eyes can possibly be real.
It’s true that democracy is on the ballot this year. But it’s also true that the planet’s fate is on the ballot this year. We can’t win that fight this year, but we can lose it. Just as we could lose our democracy so we can also lose the last market hope of life-saving energy technology.
Right now, Americans are the baddies in the environmental struggle. We can try to turn that around, or we can sentence our grandchildren to a death of fire.