The signs are everywhere. With hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico each day, coal miners being buried alive in West Virginia and the first new nuclear power plant begun in the United States in 30 years losing a lawsuit over the safety of its design, dirty energy sources are giving us a glimpse of our future if we continue to rely on them. These are not the first signs, nor will they be the last, but many of us have been able to ignore them until now.
As one of the worst oil spills in our nation’s history begins to wash ashore along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, the wildlife and people whose lives and livelihoods depend on the Gulf’s coastal ecosystems await their fate. Unfortunately they are not the only ones suffering from dependence on fossil fuels. From rapidly increasing rates of asthma, cancer and other pollution-related diseases to soldiers’ lives and trillions of dollars lost in pursuit of foreign oil, the consequences of our wasteful energy habits are often forgotten or ignored.
But there are other signs, which offer hope for a just and sustainable future. Cape Cod permitting the country’s first offshore wind farm, for example. And tremendous opportunities exist to create jobs in efficiency and domestic clean energy production. By beginning to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy now, we can improve our health, environment and economy. Or we can wait for the next disaster.
BS ME ‘09