Two weeks ago, I gave a speech at MIT urging the students to use their ingenuity and engineering expertise to help stop global warming. It was inspiring to speak directly to young people who have the talent to help put America at the forefront of the global market for clean energy solutions.
But you know what is even better? Hearing the President of the United States pass on a similar message at the same place just weeks later.
I wasn’t able to attend President Obama’s speech at MIT in person, but I imagine many people in the audience shared my excitement--and relief--at hearing America’s top leader say “there is no question” that we must transition to clean energy for the sake of our economy and our national security (see this section of the speech here).
But Obama made an even more important point. He said that while innovation and discovery have always been part of the American DNA, there is no guarantee that we will lead the world in clean energy.
The world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century. From China to India, from Japan to Germany, nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways to producing and use energy. The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. I am convinced of that. And I want America to be that nation.
To become that nation, we have to invest in the engineers, the labs, the factories, and the city and state governments that are leading the way into the clean energy future.
And as Obama said, we can do that best by passing “comprehensive legislation that will finally make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”
I was also pleased to hear Obama single out the young veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are traveling the country as part of Operation Free--a coalition that NRDC supports. These young service people have experienced first hand the grave consequences of America’s oil addiction.
It’s young people like these veterans and the students at MIT who can help usher in the clean energy century. With leadership like President Obama’s, America just might accomplish it.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.