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Cries Of Nature
Part 3 — Governmental Gambling
Politics is involved in almost every issue that confronts the countries of the world. Politics is tightly woven with the economy and many decisions are made based on money or votes rather than the best interests of the people or our planet. Unfortunately, the problems related to global warming and many of the solutions affect some of the largest, richest and most powerful companies and countries of the world. This has resulted in careful political tiptoeing to avoid any negative effects to these companies and governments, rather than making strong, positive decisions to improve the health and future for the people of this planet.
Financial Year 1998-1999
A national survey conducted by a sustainable energy advocacy group showed that a clear majority of voting Americans wanted increased spending in renewable energy alternatives. This survey was unique in the sense that the questions were formulated to focus interest away from the organizations desired results and targeted a non-sympathetic audience.
Environmental News Network, June 4, 1999
The survey results directly contradict House and Senate appropriation committees votes May 25 to cut Department of Energy programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency and increase funding for nuclear and fossil fuels programs.
The survey was performed by Research/Strategy/Management Inc. of Sterling, Va., from May 10-18 and included a sample of 1,029 adult Americans.
The survey was commissioned by the Sustainable Energy Coalition, a group of 35 national business, environmental and consumer organizations dedicated to promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. This was the seventh public opinion survey commissioned by the coalition.
When asked which of five research and development areas in the Department of Energy should receive the highest funding priority, 37 percent said renewable energy; 25 percent said technologies to improve energy efficiency and conservation; 7 percent said natural gas; 8 percent said fossil fuels such as oil, gasoline and coal; and 8 percent said nuclear power.
Despite this overwhelming majority, the government cut important funding and ignored the best interests of the people and planet.
The Detroit News, September 9, 1998
The world is headed for an oil shortage in about two years because consumption is rising and companies are cutting back on exploration after a year-long slump in prices, OPEC's top executive said.
A 30-percent drop in oil prices is discouraging new investment at a time when world oil demand is expected to rise by 2.5 million barrels a day, or 3.2 percent, in the next few years as weakened Asian economies recover, Lukman said.
A world wide oil shortage was widely predicted two years ago and we have still been caught with our pants down.
Financial Year 1999-2000
Almost a year later we were reminded again of our precarious reliance on fossil fuels.
Environmental News Network, July 28, 1999
Research and development of alternative energy technologies should be accelerated, Richard Truly, director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory told the National Press Club Tuesday.
Otherwise, he said, the United States could face supply shortages. Worldwide energy demand is expected to outstrip the supply of fossil fuels early in the next century. Alternative energy technologies must fill the void.
There is now an oil shortage and everyone is paying premium prices while large companies sit back and reap the rewards at the expense of the people and the planet.
It appears that America relishes being at the mercy of the unstable, oil supplying Arab countries. Despite various recurring problems in the past and near future, funding for alternative energy R&D has always been unacceptable to produce any real solutions.
Environmental News Network, August 2, 1999
Robert Margolis, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, and Daniel Kammen, a professor of Energy and Society at the University of California Berkeley, warn that the cutbacks in energy research and development funding should sound an alarm. "The wholesale dismantling of large portions of the industrial world's energy research and development infrastructure could seriously impair our ability to envision and development new technologies to meet emerging challenges," said the researchers.
Since 1980, spending on energy-related research and development among the 10 nations that conduct a significant amount of that research declined 39 percent. U.S. energy research and development rose from $7.6 billion in 1976 to a high of $11.9 billion three years later. Investments in energy-related research then started a long decline, bottoming out at $4.3 billion in 1996; the last year figures were available.
"My personal view is that if we don't increase the funds for energy technology R&D, then we will be heading down a dark path,"said Margolis. "The threats are serious."
Financial Year 2000-2001
Since no alternative solutions have been sufficiently achieved, our reliance on oil has now caused harmful effects to national security.
Clinton's decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) has raised some important questions.
Cable News Network, September 25, 2000
Last Thursday, Gore proposed that the U.S. control rising oil prices by tapping a small portion of the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve. A day later the Clinton Administration announced that it was releasing 30 million of the 570 million bbl. now stockpiled in salt caves along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. The idea, said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, is to correct extreme shortages in the heating-oil supply. "This is not political,"he said. "The President wants to help the American people…have enough heat in their homes."
Six weeks before a presidential election, nothing that happens in official Washington is not political. And though many news reports have called this the first peacetime release of oil from the strategic reserve, it is not. The Clinton Administration has played election-year politics with the SPR before. In the spring of 1996, as Clinton was running for re-election against Bob Dole, gasoline prices shot up 20% in some states. Dole proposed repealing Clinton's 1993 gas-tax increase and three days later the President responded. He seized on an obscure part of a bipartisan deficit-reduction bill and spun it as a relief measure for motorists.
Sound familiar? Maybe SPR stands for Strategic Political Reserve. Clinton used it to inoculate himself against Dole. And Gore has used it to inoculate himself against Bush, who for months has been hammering Clinton-Gore for having no coherent energy policy.
If our dependence on oil has intensified to the point where national security can be seriously affected, why are we not changing to a safer solution? Do fossil fuels provide better immediate political leverage?
House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton recently said, "These problems aren't going to go away by themselves. If we don't develop a tough energy policy and stick to it, we are just going to keep lurching from one crisis to another… We have to have a strong energy policy that will help us become more self sufficient."
So far it has been all talk and no action. However, the upcoming American elections could result in action that may or may not be desirable. For now, the fate of the planet lies in the hands of the voters.
A Divided Road
America's imminent elections are critical to the future of our planet and energy sources. Many large businesses are supplying both the Republicans and Democrats with equally large sums of money due to such a close electoral race. However the oil industry has a clear favourite.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans have received a generous $16.5 million in this election cycle, while the Democrats received only $4.5 million. This is understandable when you consider the history of the candidates.
George Bush: Governor of oil-rich Texas. He also founded a Texas oil exploration outfit in the late 1970s. Dick Cheney is former CEO of Halliburton Co, a Dallas-based energy service company. He is from Wyoming, which has a significant oil industry presence.
Al Gore: Author of "Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit" published in 1992 and calls for protection of the environment. He has been very critical of the petroleum industry.
While the world's politicians debate the seriousness of global warming, we are being exposed to an ever-increasing degradation of our climatic system and way of life. Governments have done nothing but talk for years, and now the time is up. We want action, and we have the opportunity. I encourage you all to consider carefully who you want controlling the future environment of our children.
The Threat From Within
On September 21st 1987, before the United Nations General Assembly, former President Ronald Reagan gave an enlightening speech about world unification. "In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world", he said.
We are now faced with a threat that is far from being alien, and has the power to annihilate the Earth hundreds of times over; it is the human species. An opportunity for unification has now presented itself in the form a political campaign. We can vote for increased fossil fuel expenditure, or we can vote for the chance of a renewed environment. The choice is yours.