The United States has done more to help the environment than any other country in the world. But now it’s time to consider having the private sector and not the government handle the research and work on what’s best for the environment.
This may seem like an outrageous idea at first glance, but think about it: There is a lot of profit to be made in dealing with the environment. If the private sector can come up with a great way to help the environment, it will make more money and taxpayers will save money, and more work will get done faster. Let’s not belittle the idea. Environmentalist need to work more in the private sector helping the world with doable solutions that we know work. Not writing grants to get their income. They will make more money working for the private sector implementing the solutions.
Let me give you an example. Solar panels and wind farms are supposed to be the wave of the future. So government subsidized both of those industries and then provided tax credits that effectively made solar and wind energy the go-to forms of electrical generation. An example of this is the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. The government provided tax credits and created an eyesore. At the same time, the government shut down the dams to let the ugly windmills use the grid at four times the cost to the customer. (Not to mention that solar panels and windmills must be serviced regularly and replaced every decade or so. They don’t last forever. How long do they really last? We don’t know yet.)
I believe in having small tax credits to encourage people to work toward new power solutions. But the method the government uses is crazy and makes no sense. For example, in order to protect the interests of U.S. solar manufacturers, the government wants to institute a high tariff on the import of Chinese-made panels. I don’t believe that’s the right way to do it.
President Trump and his staff do think about the environment. They – and the environmentalists themselves – must look at a different way of approaching this issue. Why try to save a few thousand American manufacturing jobs now by restricting the import of Chinese solar panels? If solar panels ultimately lower energy bills for American residences, then why not import panels from China and then provide jobs to many more hundreds of thousands of Americans to install them at higher wages? We could install millions more solar panels if they are cheaper this way. Instead, the government chooses to focus on the short run and protects a very small manufacturing industry and keeps prices higher.
Let’s buy Chinese panels and train employees to install them at lower costs. Installers make a heck of a lot more money than workers in a manufacturing plant. And it will help the environment more by far in the long run.
What am I missing here? Help me understand how this could possibly be a bad or unworkable idea. It’s 30,000 manufacturing jobs or 200,000 installation jobs. And we could install millions more panels per year. Local utility companies should be tasked with analyzing the finances for home installation, since they are going to benefit from meeting the requirements for energy efficiency. Keep the government out of it as much as possible.
Another thing we could do for the environment: Take a few thousand scientists and environmental experts and send them to those countries we know are heavy polluters. Have them teach the scientists of these nations the methods that we now know work for the environment – such as taking coal plants and making them less polluting, or working toward alternative energy solutions, including solar.
We will eliminate coal plants and fossil fuels, but let’s make them more efficient until then. Ultimately, we need to do away with coal over the next 50 years and natural gas in the next 100 years.
Nuclear power should also be a big part of this discussion. France, to use one example, utilizes nuclear energy for about 75 percent of its power generation. They can show the world how safe it is. Nuclear power is a clean, emission-free energy source, by the way. Yes, it has issues that need to be carefully dealt with, but nuclear power plants now have huge safety factors built into their operations.
We need to help the world reduce pollution, and if we’re going to help the world, let’s do it with our people. President Trump thinks this is better than just sending money elsewhere and to have it wasted through corruption in inexperienced nations (i.e., the Paris climate accord). Instead, let’s employ our people by sending them to other countries. We could send people to China and help that country utilize new technology to reduce its energy emissions. We could make more of a difference and lower pollution levels more in 15 years in China than we could in 50 or 100 years in the United States.
These are the kinds of solutions that we could implement in weeks and months, not years. We already know what we need to do to improve as we continue to seek and discover alternative energy methods.
We’ve written about this elsewhere, but one of the things we could do to help the environment is approve more oil pipelines, if needed. This will help remove polluting trucks from the roads and oil tank cars from the rail lines. Pipelines are underground. Leaks happen and are minor, relative to carbon pollution, and there is less danger than with the above-ground transportation of flammable materials. And remember, producing a battery for an electric vehicle emits as much pollution as driving a car for a couple of years. (You won’t find that in their brochures.)
Some people will say we need to cease the mining of coal, but that puts a lot of people out of work. Other say we need to stop building dams because they inhibit salmon runs, but the ladders that are built around the dams are extremely effective and efficient, allowing the salmon runs to grow. These are the kinds of things many environmentalist don’t want to talk about because it doesn’t help grow their industry. (I don’t blame environmentalist for wanting to grow their industry; I just wish they would also grow up and come forward with new workable solutions, rather than just telling us what’s wrong with the environment. Let them go to work in the private sector and come up with workable solutions.)
Germany has historically been among the world’s leaders in solar panel installation, but their environment hasn’t gotten much cleaner because the countries surrounding it have invested heavily in coal production in order to meet Germany’s other electrical needs. Polluted air doesn’t stop at the border because Germany is trying to be environmentally friendly. We need to find solutions that works for all nations and will save all governments billions.
We have learned so much about the environment, but there is much we do not know. The environmental sciences and the study of things like climate change are constantly evolving. For example, prestigious scientific organizations like the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) include sunspots and other solar disturbances in their climate calculations. Does this mean that humans’ role in climate change has been overstated? Maybe. But we are influencing it at some level. What might this mean in terms of our research as we search for alternative energy sources?
Let’s have an honest and open dialogue about how we can improve the environment and reduce pollution as much as we possibly can.
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