Forget the Election, want a better economy? Get back to work.

Last week on ABC Tom Friedman put forth an interesting notion. I’ll paraphrase…

We had a railroad boom and bust that devestated the economy but we got a railroad system out of it. We had a dot-com boom and bust but we got the web and internet as we know it out of it. We’ve now had a real estate and credit boom and bust, we need to get a green revolution out it. 

The sentiment is one I couldn’t agree with more. The election is of course of critical importance. However, what we’re forgetting is that in this country, we the American public control our own destiny. We’ve been unwilling to do the heavy lifting as a nation to combat the problems of the future. Maybe this credit disaster and subsequent economic fallout will cause Americans to take stock. Not just of how we’ve all lived beyond our means for a half-century, but about how we use energy. 

Maybe now is the time for us to switch to LED’s and lower the thermostats, ride a bike a little more and drive a little less. Maybe, just maybe instead of buying that new, huge plasma screen we’ll buy that new huge solar panel. Maybe instead of collectively getting a little fatter, we can collectively walk a little more. The mass consumption of cheap energy and goods has led us into this mess. But reversing the trend may get us out. What if our economy boomed as we retrofitted millions of feet of residential and office space so it used less energy? What if the next boom was figuring out how to get more out of less material? What if we weren’t waiting for a presidential savior, but making a new reality for ourselves? 

You may not believe in man-made global warming. But that is hardly the point. The point is our lifestyle is not sustainable. As the future looms for India and China, do we want to be part of a global resource war? Or part of a solution to the carbon problem? 

There is a vaccuum of leadership around the world that no president can fill. WE must fill it.


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