These are hard times for sure. The economy is still stalled. Unemployment is at a stagnant 9.6% (which I think is low, considering). And decisions are being made that pit the future of our planet against short term economic gains. There isn’t a single person that doesn’t want to move our current social situation off the dime. But the question we have to ask is whether we should look to the past (aka “good times”) for solutions–solutions that may have caused much of our current predicament. Or, do we look 50 or even 100 years into the future to where we want to be as a society. Hard times require hard choices “if” we are to progress beyond our fossil fuel dependent ways.
Proposition 23, which would have suspended AB 32, the “Global Warming Act of 2006”, was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.AB 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006”, was passed by the California State Legislature and signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Proposition 23, if enacted by voters, would have frozen the provisions of AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. California’s unemployment rate, which currently hovers around 12%, has been at 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters just three times since 1980. [Source: BallotPedia] Fortunately, Prop 23 failed to pass.
The sad thing is that AB32 only required carbon emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels. I keep hoping that someone will ask for it be reduced to pre-Industrial Revolution level. Anything less is really a just a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. Even if we stopped spewing CO2 into the atmosphere today, its CO2 levels would continue to rise for many years to come.
And so we come back to hard choices. Do we really want to bury our heads in the sand about global warming simply so we can jump-start our economy? Why can’t we see beyond the short-term gain/long-term environmental damage in order to get at longer term solutions? Why can’t we cease with activities that encourage our fossil fuel based economy, and really, truly undertake ones that are innovative and set us down a path of a new paradigm?
The longer we continue to convince ourselves that a few more years hooked up to the oil IV we’re on is OK, the longer, and more difficult, it will be before we can flip the switch on a new reality. We did it with organic agriculture–and today we’re still pushing the envelope of what that means. We’re trying to do it with alternative energy. All it will take is us realizing that the value in doing the right thing far exceeds the cost of doing the wrong thing. These are the times when it is actually easier to make hard choices because there is less complacency.
Folks, we need a new paradigm. But it won’t be easy. But critical junctures in history never were.