Managing the natural resource of this country is one of the most important jobs of the Federal Government. Congress has been completely shirking its responsibility in this area. Beyond being disastrous for our Environment and Food Safety, this is also creating much long-term economic risk.
Reducing Oil Consumption
I think this is the biggest challenge we face now. From 2000 to 2010, gas prices increased from around 1.30 per gallon to around $3 per gallon. This has been a pretty steady overall trend (with some pretty radical swings over the last few years). If the price trend of the last 8-10 years continues, gas will cost between $4.50 and $5.50 in 2015 and between $7.50 and $9.00 per gallon with likely swings up to $12-15 per gallon. And that's just assuming things are going to stay pretty much the same as they were over the last 10 years. They probably aren't going to. Read More...
It is strategically important to develop all safe energy technologies. Virtually all of the energy currently used in the world is created by the sun and stored in a myriad of different ways until we end up using it (those energy storage methods include petroleum and coal, BTW). There isn't any one magic solution and we haven't got time to try these technologies one at a time. Read More...
Global warming is a huge problem. It's not totally proven that there is such a thing as global warming and we can't predict exactly what will happen; however, we really can't wait for absolute proof. I can tell you as an engineer that even though we can't predict exactly what will happen, it won't be good. The weather is essentially a very complex, under-damped, resonant system. When you feed more energy into a resonant system, the system tends to get higher resonant peaks. When talking about the weather, that means more violent storms, colder winters, hotter summers. There are even some theories that melting polar ice will reduce the saline content of the ocean enough to cool the North Atlantic and make the northeastern part of the US, Canada and most of the UK like the current arctic regions (while the equator gets much hotter). A lot of this may be overblown, but it's not clearly overblown. The conservative thing to do here is to avoid global warming, because the consequences run from dangerous to a disaster whose scale we can't even comprehend.
As dangerous as global warming is, it's really a symptom of a much bigger problem: We use way too much oil! In fact, most of the proposals I have seen for just dealing with global warming are so delayed that by the time they are implemented, oil will not be affordable. We need to move much more quickly than that and we need to go after the root cause.
I think most of us are really sick of getting so much junk mail. Not only that, but trash disposal costs are increasing dramatically. I favor legislation that requires the Post Office to collect a disposal surcharge on all 3rd class mail. The surcharge must be enough to cover the cost of disposing of that mail (and collecting the surcharge). The collected funds would be distributed to the cities and towns receiving the mail to help pay the cost of trash disposal. This isn't as important as many other issues, but it is one little thing we can do. It helps the environment and also eases the growing financial burden on local governments.
With the exception of global warming, I think that our environmental laws and policies were in pretty good shape before George W Bush took office. The GWB administration went out of the way to avoid enforcing the laws that are on the books. That has got to stop.
I don't believe we have any business drilling for oil in naturally sensitive areas (like Alaska) while we are allowing gas guzzling SUVs to be sold. If we are all driving around in 60+MPG vehicles and we are having shortages, we might need to rethink this, but not now.
We tend to take our food supply for granted, but there are two things that are currently threatening our food supply:
- The push for Globalization is attempting to usurp our ability to set our own food safety standards.
- There has been a big business effort (especially during the Bush administration) to replace responsible FDA food safety inspectors with industry shills that are only concerned with making money, not food safety. For example, we keep finding more instances of Mad Cow disease in the American beef herds and the FDA mouthpieces are still claiming there is no problem and the system is safe. And how many large recalls of contaminated meat have happened in the last few years?