I just finished reading The Next President’s First Task (A Manifesto) by environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. featured in the new green issue of Vanity Fair. The opinion article began with a comparison by Lord David Puttnam of the similar issues being raised in Parliament 200 years ago over the abolition of slavery that are being heard today over climate change and energy issues. At first reading this I didn’t make the connection, but it was very surprising to see how the connection could be made. “At that time slave commerce represented one-fourth of Britain’s G.D.P. and provided its primary source of cheap, abundant energy.” After the moral choice to abolish slavery, Britain saw economic growth which lead into the industrial revolution.“Carbon dependence has eroded our economic power, destroyed our moral authority, diminished our international influence and prestige, endangered our national security, and damaged our health and landscapes.” Kennedy also point out the economic growth countries who have made an effort to move away from carbon like Sweden and Iceland. I think this is a good analogy to a point. The world will not one day just stop using greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels, but we can curb our use and make better energy choices.
Kennedy then outlined several steps the new president should take to improve our energy future: enact a cap and trade system, update our grid to better suit renewable technologies like wind, solar, and geothermal, and use a smarter grid with more efficient buildings and appliances. I agree with Mr. Kennedy on all these steps to creating a better energy future for America. I think there is even more that can be done, but these are all great steps.