The Politics of Solar Energy

The temperature of the planet is rising exponentially, and the financial, social and environmental costs of fossil fuels are becoming increasingly apparent. Meanwhile, the fact is that on a clear day, the sun rains down the equivalent of one thousand watts (that's a megawatt, folks) of free energy on every square yard of the planet's surface.

It therefore seems insane that energy policy that could mean clean, cheap solar power for everyone and good jobs for American workers is being held hostage by the interests of a few incredibly wealthy and powerful interests. Sadly, this is exactly what is happening, and it seems clear that if the Republican Party takes back Congress in November America's oil addiction will continue at the expense of the public, the environment and global well-being.

It's worth noting that China and Germany are currently leaving the USA in the dust where solar energy and other renewables are concerned, thanks to thirty years of misguided and mishandled economic policies in Washington.

Carter Had It Right

Flawed man that he was, former President Jimmy Carter had it right when he finally came out and said, "The energy crisis is real...it is a clear and present danger to our nation." In that historic speech, delivered in July of 1979, he laid out an ambitious program that, had it been followed, would have insured that the United States would never again "use more foreign oil than we did in 1977." One of the goals was to cut U.S. dependence on imported oil by 50% by 1990.

To show the country and the world he was putting his money where his mouth was, Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House.

Traitors in Our Midst

Unfortunately, Carter did not win reelection in 1980. Instead, political deals were made by the opposition party, and Ronald Reagan, the best friend Big Oil ever had, was elected. His first act was to remove the solar panels from the White House and cancel Carter's energy program. The rest is tragic history, and today the situation is as dire as ever.

The Answer

Solar cell efficiency needs to make further progress before it can fully replace fossil fuels, but great strides have been made in recent years. Within the next five years, this efficiency will begin to approach 100%, and we can begin restoring the nation's self-sufficiency and healing the environment while returning the prosperity we once enjoyed.


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