If we are to continue to grow our economy without destroying the planet’s basic systems that sustain human life, we need to learn a great deal more about our planet and the impact of human activities on natural systems.
As we face a Donald Trump administration, we must reflect on the development of environmental policy and politics of the past. Despite the skepticism that President-elect Trump could halt progress on sustainability efforts such as research and development for renewable energy, it seems that the average person values a clean and safe environment. Donald Trump is anything but predictable, and we should maintain hope that we can continue to make a case for sustainability and pursue progress in our country and around the world.
While ideologues continue to deny the reality of climate change, local governments do not have the luxury of indulging in the Tea Party and Koch Brothers’ favorite environmental fantasy. The impacts are real. We don’t need to shut down the economy, but we need to learn to run it without burning the place down or floating away in floodwaters.
The New York Times reported on a new international agreement that will phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a chemical that is used in refrigerators and air conditioners that is a powerful greenhouse gas. The irony is that HFCs were developed to replace chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, chemicals that caused a hole in our atmosphere’s ozone layer and were banned by the Montreal Protocol of 1987.
There are limits to how much a president can do without a congress willing to legislate. Barack Obama produced his environmental legacy through the creative and determined use of his executive authority.
It is very important that our politics reflect the universality of human experience as well as the distinctiveness of this place we call America. Let’s treasure our common values and distinctiveness and make a world safe for both.
The goal of the energy transition is to create a renewable energy system that is as effective and reliable as the current fossil fuel-based system. Microgrids provide backup capacity and vastly increase the reliability of power systems for consumers. A second goal of the energy transition is to switch off of fossil fuels and rely on solar, wind and geothermal sources of energy.
The problem with a Trump White House is we won’t know who owns the house. The argument for taking such a “huge” chance on the most powerful public office in the world is that the country is in such terrible condition that it’s worth the risk.
The new law is far from perfect, but it is a major improvement over the ineffectual 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Under that law, only five of the over 80,000 chemicals now in use have been banned or substantially restricted in use.
The investment in environmental clean-up often stimulates other upgrades that enable businesses to more effectively compete in a global economy. Moreover, a clean environment reduces illness and that reduces the need for expensive health care.