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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Self Shelf: A new approach to global warming

Published: February 12, 2010
Section: Opinions

ILLUSTRATION BY Ali Corman-Vogan/The Hoot

Democrats attempting to green the country by convincing skeptical Republicans that global warming exists are simply wasting their time.

Convincing Republicans takes more work than necessary, and there are other means of getting to the desired end than debating.

For one, skepticism in global warming is understandable. While most scientists agree global warming exists, there is a vocal minority who do not. And when you don’t have a Ph.D., pitting yourself against them is a tiring task.

Even if you do convince them that global warming exists, they may not care. The average global temperature rising over the next century is meaningless to many simply because they don’t see it on a day-to-day basis. There are predictions of catastrophe purported by pundits, but these prophecies have yet to materialize.

Democrats can more easily frame the problem in the following way: Our dependence on fossil fuels is a much more complex and immediate problem than one’s beliefs in global warming. That we are dependent on foreign countries such as Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia for our oil consumption is certainly undesirable.

Many pundits say these countries couldn’t stay afloat without the U.S.’ oil money. But the volatility of the regimes in these countries can lend itself to irrational decisions which defy the pundits’ logic.

Honestly, do you really want to rely on the good economic sense of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

It’s time that we started framing the problem to of our dependence on fossil fuels in a way that appeals to everyone rather than simply the left. Anyone can get behind a movement that would rid us of our reliance on enemies abroad.

This would probably be a successful platform, but it would lead to many who would ask why we don’t simply increase domestic supply of fossil fuels. In fact, this was a large issue during our last presidential election.

A solution to this is simply to point to the facts. Creating new oil refineries, coal factories or natural gas wells costs a lot of money. In addition to this cost, there is a cost in time. An oil well built today in the Gulf of Mexico won’t produce at peak capacity for a good twenty years at the least.

The only other option is nuclear power, but everyone seems to be afraid to go near that due to N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Back Yard). In any case, these would also cost a lot of money and the question of where to store nuclear waste is never all that pleasant.

Thus, the practical solution here would be green energy. It’s not all that expensive by comparison and, most importantly, it’s renewable. Imagine the comfort factor of knowing that our entire economy isn’t under the constant threat of grinding to a halt if some foreign dictator decides to send the United States a message.

Finally, there’s the interesting note that China is currently pouring billions into green energy (admittedly while using fossil fuels). They’re taking the initiative while the United States sits on its laurels and clings desperately to its SUVs.

The future is most likely going to be green whether you like it or not. The question is whether the United States is going to lead or follow.