THE BLOG
11/12/2012 09:30 am ET Updated Jan 12, 2013

At the Heart of Climate Change

At the heart of the climate change debate is the American economy -- in its current form and size, its role in our nation and in the world and how any changes to it will impact businesses, shareholders, the worker, consumers and the ability of our governments. Reducing greenhouse gases means either increasing efficiencies in energy use through new "green" technology, which is a short-term solution to a long-term problem, or by changing society's values from one that's built heavily on "wants," on consumption and materialism to a "needs-based" economy that puts a greater value on living more simply and in harmony with one another and the environment. America is built-out from coast to coast.

Everyone that wants a place to call home either pays a mortgage or rent or lives in government housing. All these dwellings have utilities (power, water and sewer), furniture, electronics (TV, radio...), appliances, a closet full of clothes and food in the refrigerator and cupboard. Most have some form of transportation sitting in the driveway or out on the street. In truth, Americans need little else, but trying convincing any man, woman or child whose drug of choice, whose "wants" is consuming more and more of the above to dull their pain and suffering with their latest purchase.

Our addiction to stuff is both destructive and self-destructive. A society that's addicted is also by nature in denial. We refuse to face the truth about our addictions, our dependency on this artificial way of life and America's direct contribution to climate change. Having built-out America, our jobs and the factories have moved overseas to new markets where these products can be produced more cheaply and delivered on those same continents and to us.

America's great struggle is moving from a growth-oriented nation to one that's more sustainable, humble and realistic about its needs and wants for the next century or two without self-destructing, in the process. This requires wisdom, which is in short supply, both, in our society and in Washington. It will only occur by taking the time to learn what all previous empires have failed to heed from their predecessors about how to transition successfully from adolescents into adulthood and maturity.