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Addressing Climate Change: Vote for Green, Not Junk Jobs, in 2012

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The liquid golden light of winter floods our flowering yard, perfumed by blooming narcissus, cymbidium orchids, Andean lilies, and others. Tropical? No, we live in a temperate zone, but this year's unseasonable balmy to hot, dry weather persisted from the US southwest to the now-not-so-frozen Canadian north, as climate change melted away white Christmas hopes. Ah, warm, sunny winter weather -- an insidious, sinful delight of climate change. Perhaps that is why the Republican slate of presidential wannabes ignores the issue entirely, focusing instead on lack of jobs, despite President Obama's attempts to create green ones.

But are the jobs that Republican candidates propose really going to solve our nation's biggest problems? As the overwhelming majority of reputable scientists agree, burning fossil fuels produces air pollution that harms the health of Americans, and heats our global fluids enough to change climate worldwide. In 2011, enhanced droughts, hurricanes, heat and floods wiped out people, crops and infrastructure throughout the US, creating record costly damage. Now, consider: for the first time ever, fossil fuels, in the form of gas and refined oil, were the prime export of the US in 2011. Yes, the stuff behind huge health costs and harmful climate change is what the US now exports the most. And the Republicans want us to produce more of these fuels. Their twisted utopia includes jobs to import more dirty Canadian oil, frack for more dirty gas, and burn more dirty coal.

These are junk jobs, as disastrous as junk bonds and mortgage loans, and under Republican pressure the US continues to misguidedly subsidize the industries that create them. Is this the dirty future we want? Indeed, the International Energy Agency's 2011 World Energy Outlook report states that such subsidies result in waste and inefficient distribution of energy, while often failing to meet their stated goals of reducing poverty and encouraging development.

In previous blogs and our free online book, we point out the alternative reality that other nations, and even some US states, are already prospering from: green jobs for a green economy. The latest news out of Massachussetts, for example, is that cap and trade of greenhouse gases is creating more jobs and saving energy -- primarily because the state is investing the revenues into improving energy efficiency. Various Midwest cities are starting to boom from manufacturing clean renewable energy technologies. More and more people are turning to rooftop solar generation. And nationwide, the green effort is starting to pay off. The US became more energy secure in 2010 by using 20% less energy than it did the previous year -- advances mirrored by the funding of energy efficiency programs by utilities. Meanwhile, both the costs of solar and wind energy approach that of fossil fuels as dramatic technological breakthroughs continue to increase the production efficiency of these clean renewable energy sources.

From 2008 to 2011, we learned that a green compromising president is not enough to lead this nation into a green future. If we are to create a greener utopia of lower health costs and good jobs, it means we have to stop voting for the Santas that continue to stuff coal in our stockings. We not only need a green future president, but a green future Congress -- 60 green votes of courage in the Senate, and a green majority in the House. Whether right, left or middle, it is those candidates our nation desperately needs. It's time to vote for green, not junk, jobs.

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