While on Facebook I happened across this bitterly funny bit on The Daily Show. (It has been around awhile, but I just watched it today.) As sad as it is, Stewart manages to make our energy Sustainability Gap funny.
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I just can’t add much to what Stewart has put together. I’m impressed by the outstanding research done by someone on the issue—it took a lot of real work to track down not just the archival footage but the historical trend.
Stewart really nails our problem on the head. We’ve been hearing the same speech for the last 40 years. But when will our elected leaders really move on energy policies that put a price on carbon, support large scale retrofits of our existing buildings, and tap the full potential of renewable-energy technologies and smart grid?
The politics of energy are truly challenging. (If you want to read an unfunny and excruciatingly detailed story about the Sustainability Gap read Ryan Lizza’s piece in the New Yorker about failed cap and trade legislation). The battle to get “energy independence” is about more than just having the smarts, the right technology, or even the money. It comes down to political will. Can we step off the fossil fuel roller coaster? Can we create transportation and land use policy that shifts us toward more sustainable ways of getting around? Can we overcome cheap energy prices to get effective energy efficiency financing?
Our region has an election coming up with sustainability on the ballot in Washington state with Referendum 52—which would retrofit public schools—and in California with Assembly Bill 32—the Global Warming Solutions Act. Passing R-52 would be a good start toward closing the gap in Washington and could lead other states—like Oregon—to retrofit schools. And voters in California seem to be leaning away from a repeal of their landmark climate change legislation.
Getting it right on these two measures won’t close the Sustainability Gap—the distance between what we say and what we do about becoming sustainable—but might keep it from getting wider.