Wisdom never goes out of style. We need radical measures.
"Just go through this mental exercise: What kind of America would you like to see--an America that is addicted to oil and thereby fueling the worst autocracies in the world, or a green America that is building scalable alternatives to crude oil and thereby freeing ourselves from the grip of countries who have drawn a bull's-eye on our back and whose values we oppose?
"What kind of America would you like to see--an America that is steadily outsourcing more and more blue-collar, labor intensive manufacturing jobs to China, or a green America that is building more and more knowledge-intensive green-collar technology jobs--for making green buildings, vehicles, and power sources-which are more difficult to outsource and will have to be the industry of the future, as fossil-fuel energy supplies dwindle and world population grows?
"What kind of America would you like to see-an America with more urban sprawl devouring more and more open lands, or a green America where cities start to grow up rather than outward, where mass transit becomes the norm rather than mass traffic jams, and where the only new buildings are green buildings?
"What kind of America would you like to see-an American where government relaxes energy and efficiency standards on cars, buildings, and appliances, prompting our industries to get innovation-lazy, or a green America where the U.S. government imposes steadily higher efficiency standards, forcing a constant flow of new thinking around materials, power systems, and energy software, making us the most energy productive country in the world?
"What kind of America would you like to see--an America where there is no big national goal, or a green America, where inventing a source of abundant, clean, reliable, cheap electrons, which could enable the whole planet to grow in a way that doesn't destroy its remaining natural habitats, becomes the goal of this generation--inspiring young people to go into math, science, biology, physic, and nanotechnology?
"What kind of America would you like to see--an America that is spotlighted as the last holdout at international environmental conferences, earning the world's contempt, or a green America that is seen as the country most committed-by example-to preserving our environment and the species that inhabit it, earning the world's respect?
"There is a Chinese proverb that says, "When the wind changes direction, there are those that build walls and those that build windmills." What will we do? Build more American walls around our embassies, walls around the headquarters of our companies, tariffs around our products, trade barriers to wall off our economy, legal walls to protect our automakers, electronic walls to protect our borders, military walls to isolate us from our allies and further motivate our enemies, and visa walls to prevent visitors from entering our country, living the American dream, melting in with our people, and enriching our culture? Or will we build windmills that we will use ourselves and export to others in every shape, color, flavor, and style?
"Yes, the wind has changed direction. The era we are heading into will be an era in which our lives, our ecosystems, our economies, and our political choices will be constrained if we do not find a cleaner way to power our future and a better way to protect our natural world. So I say we build windmills. I say we lead." Thomas Friedman Hot, Flat, and Crowded (2008)
Until next time, open arms and open minds.
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