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Swords into Solar Panels

05/08/2007 09:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The former greenhouse gas deniers like George Will and Glenn Beck are now claiming that, yes, climate change is happening, but there's nothing we could do because it would be too expensive to address, (their policy can be briefly summed up as "Saving the world is expensive so let's just die.")

Yet somehow they blithely ignore all the money hemorrhaging out of Washington to pay for the war in Iraq. Despite the grotesque scale of those expenditures, somehow our economy survives; the stock market keeps rising, birds keep singing and life goes on.

Now last fall, Congressional Research Service completed a survey saying that the war in Iraq was costing roughly 2 billion dollars a week. And this is a war that has been going on for around 214 weeks now.

Which adds up to something like $428 billion dollars.

So, a simple exercise is what could we have done with that money in the more important war, the war against climate change? If certain scriptwriters on Star Trek are correct and there are an infinite number of parallel universes out there and if in one of them you are in control, how would you spend that money?

How about this, a 40 billion dollar grant to build two factories that make plug in hybrid cars that'll get 100 mpg, that would be a nice start. That odd looking Prius has shown if you give the people a fuel efficient car to buy, well, the people will buy it. So partner up with someone who knows how to make cars and fire up the line.

And while your zippy little new vehicles are flying out the factory door, you -- the global warming Czar -- still have 388 billion dollars to play with.

Now, according to my hippie home repair brochures, solar costs about $7 a watt to install. Okay, let's say we spend half our mad money on that. Suddenly you've got about 27 billion watts -- 27 gigawatts -- of electricity that are now green energy. That's a nice sized chunk of the 420 gigawatts we use to power this country every year. Plus you've completely energized an emerging industry, helping to cut costs and lower the price of solar for everyone.

There's 194 billion dollars left. So, first, take a nap on the couch in your office. It's been a crazy few days. And when you wake up, lie there in your rumpled suit looking at that picture of Condi on your desk and wonder out loud, "What goes on in that crazy head of yours, baby?" Then -- come on! -- roll up your sleeves and get back to work.

Well, there's simple stuff: spend a hundred billion of that retrofitting government buildings for greater efficiency, spend fifty billion on rebates for people who want to spend their own money on solar, retrofitting, etc. Spend a billion on an enormous global outreach campaign explaining to the citizens of countries like China, India, and the Confederate States of NASCAR why they have to moderate their way of life to meet this looming crisis.

Oy, where are we? 43 billion? How about some more windmills, subsidize a biofuel revolution, plant some trees, fund research into how we can keep cow methane to a minimum (it's a problem, people), and then, finally, buy a few billion cases of beer so everyone in the country to celebrate how we as a species are finally evolving in the right direction.

And make it Pabst Blue Ribbon, 'cause just like that biofuel it's cheap, it's domestic, and it does the job nicely.

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