Time to Build.
For all of the talk of recession these days, corporations and businesses are making money, and many of them are sitting on huge piles of cash. It can’t help but conjur up images of Scrooge McDuck, swan diving into a giant swimming pool of gold.
Despite all of that, unemployment is becoming a chronic plague in the USA, one felt in nearly every corner of the country. It really doesn’t need to be this way. There are huge tasks that we need to tackle, and we need to address them together. The largest, most obvious one is energy. It is tied hugely to climate change, and large-scale building projects could help put a dent in unemployment while also building critical infrastructure for our future. Granted, Congress (or frankly, Republicans) are completely incompetent at the moment, obfuscating important issues and hurling red herrings every time they open their mouths. This means finding the capital to fund big projects will be hugely challenging. But in an age where we’re dumping billions a week into unsustainable wars, it becomes necessary to spell out some of our good roadmaps.
For years, scientists have known the awesome potential of renewable energy sources. As a society, we’ve nibbled at the edges of these technologies, with few notable examples of truly game-changing implementations. That needs to change. There is no reason why a progressive consortium couldn’t plan and build a renewable energy project of epic proportion. The scale would dwarf anything currently, meant to capture enough clean energy to run whole nations, not just communities. And these visions aren’t pipe dreams. There are definitive studies by groups like the National Academy of Sciences who have calculated the ability of wind or solar projects to power millions and even billions of homes. Projects like the Solar Power Tower in Arizona and proposed offshore wind farms in the North Atlantic show the amazing potential of these clean sources of energy. Their costs are significant, in the billions of dollars, though hardly as large as new nuclear or coal generating plants, and the source of renewable fuel is inextinguishable!
No one doubts that sources of energy like wind and solar have their limitations. Big advances in efficiency, energy storage and distribution are needed before giant projects can be tackled. But none of these problems should stand in our way. In addition to the current fleet of wind and solar devices, new and radical technologies are being designed from the ground up. Below is just a glimpse of these up-and-coming game-changers.
All of this is to say that good options for addressing both energy and job needs are available and proven. The development of new clean energy projects would spur research and development, high-tech manufacturing and a sense of civic duty and national pride. And when’s the last time you could say that?