Recently, the Obama Administration has been increasingly vocal in claiming support for alternative energy programs. Republicans, however, have generally marked such programs for serious cutbacks (by about 70%), highlighting yet another important difference between the two parties in this budget debate. There are countless reasons for why we as a nation must move away from the obsolete fossil fuel energy sources and move toward the energy of the future, but I’ll try to name a few.
The first has been a cause of great concern in recent years- the environment. Many governments and scientists now recognize greenhouse gas emissions as a major contributer to global warming, and can also lead to negative health effects. In 2005, the United States accounted for 16% of total annual emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide, just under China (and let’s not call China an environmental beacon). The use of fossil fuels in energy production contributed to a large portion of these emissions. Switching to clean sources of energy is one of the largest things we can do to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
Secondly, there is the issue of national security and trade deficits. We import a fair amount of the energy that we use- over 30%- and over 60% of our oil from other countries. This can lead to situations where the United States is vulnerable both to fluctuations in world oil prices and to hostility from oil-producing nations, as we saw in the 1973 oil crisis. By becoming energy independent through renenewable energy, the United States will be safer and will have a smaller trade deficit, as it won’t have to rely on foreign energy.
Thirdly, renewable and alternative energy can provide the economic boost that the country needs. These energy sources will create technical jobs that can spur education and science in this country, which has been falling behind since the end of the Cold War. New research possibilities and opportunities for energy sources could advance American innovation that has been crucial to building this nation. The opportunities for economic growth with renewable energy are endless, and it would be foolish to ignore them. America must turn to renewable energy for economic reasons, if not environmental and security ones.