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"The sage manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech." - Lao Tzu

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June 26, 2009

Climate Opportunity

The Chronicle didn't print this little piece I wrote, so I will...

While the “Great Recession” is understandably Americans’ most immediate concern, many believe climate change is in fact the biggest threat to our security. Texas lost jobs this year; we are in the midst of a recession that is hitting everyone, but Houston can come out on top of this crisis. We can help solve the economic crisis and the climate crisis at the same time.

Our declining oil reserves and soaring population have turned the Lone Star State into a net energy importer, but Texas is only beginning to tap two huge natural resources. With our abundance of wind and sun, Texas will lead the nation in production of electricity from wind turbines and photovoltaic (PV) panels; we are already number one from wind. Houston, with its existing knowledge and industry, can capitalize on the development of stable renewable power, and Texas could reverse the process of closing manufacturing plants by retooling them to make wind turbines and PV panels.

Do not take my word for it. According to a study commissioned by the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors, continued growth in the clean energy industry could, between now and 2038, create more than 370,000 new jobs in Texas. The Houston metropolitan area alone would gain more than 140,000 of those jobs.

As leaders of the green economy, in Houston and statewide, we know that, together, we could transition effectively and efficiently to clean energy production. By investing in renewable energy production and in energy conservation using common-sense efficiency and conservation methods, we will create jobs and wealth across our state, all while protecting our environment and saving our planet.

New power sources, new jobs and a cleaner Earth may not make any difference in your living room, but energy efficiency will. Energy efficiency is the most affordable and fastest way to curb our energy use, but best of all, we individually profit from it. Who does not want to save money on their utility bills? We have had a reprieve from high-energy prices over the past year. How long will it last? The old saying was never truer: the best time for energy conservation measures was yesterday, and the second-best time is today.

There is no technological silver bullet to solving our energy challenges; it will take a comprehensive approach to energy production and conservation, but the opportunity is here for economic development and prosperity through renewable energy production and efficiency measures. Climate action provides a unique opportunity to revitalize our economy with green jobs, build community, free us from foreign sources of energy, and protect our environment.

This is not out of our reach. The Waxman-Markey “American Clean Energy & Security Bill” currently in Congress, the most far-reaching, innovative change ever in U.S. energy policy, would mandate gradual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and lead to an accelerated shift away from fossil fuels and toward more renewable energy sources and greater energy efficiency. Texas missed opportunities this year when the state Legislature did not pass most of the state efforts for renewable energy and conservation, such as SB 541. Make sure that the same fate does not happen to Waxman-Markey by writing or calling your federal congressperson.

Whether we agree on climate change or not, we certainly agree on economic recovery. If we unite behind the new green economy, we gain the benefit of hundreds of thousands of new Texas jobs and a major reduction in our dependence on foreign oil. The climate crisis might be the best opportunity we have to create jobs and end the recession.

end of chronicle submission

Stay tuned for Macro Songonomics, which should be in your mailboxes any day now. MJ's gone and I wasn't a huge fan, but I sure loved that video for smooth criminal.

     As he came in through the window
     It was the sound of a crescendo
     He came into her apartment
     He left the bloodstains on the carpet.
     You've been hit by
     You've been hit by, a Smooth Criminal.