Hey Renewables, Don't Forget Climate Change!

photo credit from Angel Franco, New York Times

Throughout the election Obama and McCain have talked a lot about economics and energy. More and more people are starting to realize that our dependence on foreign oil causes economic problems. Renewable solutions like solar and wind are becoming mainstream and many traditional and even conservative players like T. Boones Pickens are picking up and running with the idea.

Take for example this article in The New York Times yesterday about Nebraska’s wind farms. Not only have these small towns discovered their abundance of clean energy, but the rural communities are taking pride in their wind turbines. One town even renamed their main street Turbine Avenue. A Turbine Mart popped up. An Iraq Veteran, now with a new job on the wind farm, gently said “I definitely would much rather be here than there.” Communities like this and all across America are great examples of the positive influence of renewable energy can have.

However, there’s even more reason to celebrate. Climate change is hardly mentioned in the article, but is fundamental in understanding why these turbines are so important. Right now most of our energy is not just coming from foreign sources, but its coming from carbon intensive sources. In order to prevent climate change and more of its effects we have to transition out of coal and oil which currently make up most of our energy sources. Renewable energy is an excellent way to do this.

However, even if renewable energy is hitting all sectors of America, its connection to climate change is not. When talking about putting up new turbines across the Great Plains it’s still uncommon to hear anything about taking pride in helping reduce emissions. Picken’s Plan, otherwise ambitious, makes absolutely no connection to global warming. That idea might be there, but it’s not prevalent yet. Transitioning to renewable energy must be tied to decreasing climate change, helping the rest of the world, and the future. To truly celebrate and understand the depth of the situation small Nebraska towns should really be naming their streets Future Generation Avenue instead.