U.S. President-elect Barack Obama recently participated in an anti-global warming rally in California during which he said that few of the nation’s problems were more urgent than global warming. To his credit, Obama tossed in a throwaway bit about dependence on foreign oil, too. But if that particular speech can be taken at face value, the soon-to-be-inaugurated president’s priorities are wrong.
Perhaps Mr. Obama didn’t heard about the whales trapped in the fast-moving arctic ice north of Baffin Island. Meanwhile the siege in Mumbai continues with over 100 now known to have been killed. Is the debate over global warming really that important?
Regarding Mumbai, CNN had Deepak Chopra on the air yesterday and while I’m loathe to put much stock in the Love Guru’s arch-rival, he did raise important, oft-asked and oft-ignored questions [emphasis mine]:
…who is financing this? Where is the money coming from? We have to ask very serious, honest questions. What role do we have in this? Are our petrodollars funding both sides of this war on terrorism? Why are we not asking the Saudis where that money is going that we give them? Is it going through this supply chain to Pakistan?
It’s pretty obvious that the answer is yes. It has to be, even if only through the trickle-down effect of the Saudis’ oil money distributions.
That’s where the national priority ought to be, squarely on developing domestic energy sources. Doing so would have the beneficial effects of deflating the artificial importance that oil-producing countries have in the world while ensuring a stable energy market at home on which business decisions can be made.
With respect to Michael’s opinion that oil-producing countries deserve special consideration vis-a-vis the economic shock that a move away from petroleum might create, I don’t think that’s true. It would do the much-beset-upon youth of Saudi Arabia, et al, good to lose their cash cow so that they must learn to compete in a world in which the value of their ideas earns them their livelihoods rather than geological happenstance. In the end, it’s up to oil-producing countries to pursue a political and economic course that maximizes and safeguards their long-term position, not their consumers.
That same long-term perspective must be applied to the problem of man-made C02 emissions. President-elect Obama should realize that, given that the U.S.’s natural resources point to coal and nuclear, it may be the case that the country’s pollution problems – and investment in nuclear energy – actually need to increase over the next few decades while research into efficient, sustainable clean energy sources continues.