Monday, May 29, 2006

5 demands from the Federal Government of the United States

1. Public Acknowledgements of peak oil through Presidential statements, governmental statements, commercials etc.
2. Set up a legislature that would make any conflict of interest between politicians and industries illegal, and is retroactive.
3. Develop and implement a plan to become at least 50% more energy sufficient by 2016.
4. Offer reduced price car engine conversions from gasoline to ethanol power and incentives for those who make the conversion nationwide.
5. Enact huge incentives for anyone involved in the research, production, market for: renewable energy resources, energy sustainability etc.

The first step that our class seemed to agree with unanimously was a direct governmental response to peak oil. If people would believe peak oil with out governmental acknowledgement, this step could be entirely eliminated but the influence of the U.S. government on national media, public opinion, industry is indisputable. The government dictates all these things, so the only way to get public cooperation is through the government.

A problem now that will undoubtedly manifest and grow like cancerous tissue is the intertwining of our democratically elected officials and industry interests. How can our government be for and by the people when industries (through lobbies) have a more direct outlet in legislation and policy than regular people? Will our government be able serve our best interests when peak oil comes if our politicians are so entrenched with big oil industry priorities? Most people in our class believed that the government can not “serve two masters” so to speak, and we should be the exclusive recipients of the benefits of governmental policy.

I want more from the government than just acknowledgement of peak oil and the elimination of officials with conflicts of interest. Our government should be responsible for figuring out (the same way their responsible for other public programs and policies) how to become at least 50% more energy sustainable by 2016. They have all the means: the researchers, structure, organizational influence, manpower etc necessary to think up and implement a plan.

One of the most inefficient uses of energy today is American cars. The most popular mode of transportation is by car (thanks to the lobbying of the automobile industry who diminished public transportation systems, railroads and tram systems throughout the country in favor of endless, humongous highways and freeways), and we are near completely reliant on oil for gasoline The longevity of most cars is 10-15 years. We can not afford to wait 10-15 years for consumers to buy more fuel efficient or ethanol powered cars. We need change as soon as possible, and the only way to entice the public to convert their cars is if there were incentives and it was not costly.

The last demand is the most broad and probably vague. I wanted to condense this demand into these terms so that I would have exactly 5 demands and not more. Basically, I want to or the government to create incentives (in the form of tax subsidies etc) for the companies that research environmental technologies that will alleviate peak oil, companies that currently produce systems for alternate sources of energy (such as companies that install solar panels), companies that decide to incorporate more energy smart techniques and technologies into their places of work (offices, factories, etc). Simultaneously, this means incentives for the individuals who decide to incorporate these energy smart technologies into their personal lives, properties etc.

One demand that I noticed from another group was the demand that we completely terminate any U.S. involvement in other countries. At first, I sympathized with this demand. Our tax dollars are going towards numerous foreign causes that Americans in general do not condone. The conflict in Iraq has consumed huge sums of public funding that could have otherwise gone towards public healthcare, free university education, better public education, sexual education etc. A third of Israel’s economy comes from U.S. funding. Egypt is also a huge recipient of U.S. aid. Colombia’s fruitless and harmful Plan Colombia, the plan for preventing and destroying the production and distribution of illegal drugs, is funded by U.S. funding. There are U.S. involvements I wouldn’t mind seeing cut off etc.

However, we need global partners in our efforts to mitigate and cope with peak oil. We have a lot to gain from partnerships with Sweden, who has already begun steps towards fuel suffiency. We can not expect help and give nothing in return. The United States can not afford to cut off engagements with the rest of the world. Not only is it not in our own interest to end U.S. involvement around the world, it is also not ethically or morally acceptable. The U.S., by being more developed and prosperous, and by developing and acquiring that prosperity at the expense of other less developed and prosperous countries, has a responsibility to help and guide the rest of the world.


Blogger Daniella said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Daniella said...

Hey Eugenia,

Chances are the government will not serve our interests, or will not for a long time after people are suffering. I've been thinking about that as incompetence buts its true that our government serves two masters, and its a matter of which will prevail, capitalism or democracy. Democracy really only has a chance if polititions with a conflict of interest are removed.

In the section you talked about cars, you mention ethanol powered cars, do u think thats a solution? I don't know too much about it but won't that just perpetute dependency? I feel part of the problem with cars is also that its for individual convience, it doesnt work to well in a large community, it will never be very effecient.

You also got me thinking about the tax subsides for the corporations who are researching alternatives and such, but this would continue to stimulate a capatilst system, the system that got us into this situation. I'm not sure we can count on the corporations to do important things well, they want to do it for profit.

The idea of a partnership with sewden is great, strong allies will be important and its a point no one has really brought up yet.

I enjoyed reading your 5 demands, they all work towards easing the pain of peak oil and are possibilities for the future.

6:01 AM  
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