I was originally going to call this "Rebranding Climate Change," but the title made even me yawn. But that's what this is really all about. Recently, we Concerned Citizens of the World have been hit with a deluge of articles -- from The Economist, Thomas Friedman, the venerable Kofi Annan, and, um, apparently every newspaper in the world -- warning us, with varying degrees of certitude, how a slight increase in the global average temperature could end up looking something like this.
While I happen to agree, all this talk of the potential risk posed by climate change far outweighing the costs of doing something about it is beginning to sound a lot like a cold call from a life insurance company. And guess what 99% of the population does when Richard from MetLife phones in the middle of Two and a Half Men?
So let's look at it another way.
When I look at the effects of the recession, along with the increasing costs -- of political credibility, at the gas pump, of lives -- associated with our reliance on fossil fuels, I don't think: "Gee, it will require a real sacrifice to change our ways." I think: "What are we, f***ing idiots?" Global warming should not be a political issue. Nor should it be, as Al Gore states, a moral issue. Let's make it an economic issue. Because making boatloads of money is something that should appeal to everyone.
Forgive my optimism, but I say when life hands you lemons, don't just make lemonade, make a lemon meringue pie. This is our opportunity to create a new American economy. One in which the smartest men and women use their gifts not to trade derivatives, but to design more efficient windmills that will make them equally rich. One in which millions of new jobs are created fabricating, assembling, transporting, and installing photovoltaic solar panels in deserts and on rooftops, providing free, clean, and unlimited energy. One in which trillions of American dollars go not into OPEC's hands, but back into our own... not to mention the additional billions we'll get from exporting our technologies across the globe.
Will it require an initial investment, some of it coming from the government? Of course. But so did our existing energy grid, the personal computer, and just about any other brilliant technology on which we've come to rely. And while the items being discussed at Copenhagen -- reduced emissions goals, a cap and trade system, etc. -- will expedite the process, what is most required is a shift in attitude. A realization that this isn't Richard from MetLife ruining your night, this is Publishers Clearing House knocking on the door, throwing confetti in your face, and handing over a big-ass check.
And if optimism isn't your thing, think of it this way. Guess which country is already investing billions of dollars in its renewable energy infrastructure as we devote our stimulus to fixing highway off-ramps. Need a hint? They're a socialist republic, they've got the world's largest standing army, and they're not into that whole "human rights" thing.
Let's get moving.