Americans are amazing. They love their sporting events. And they can turn darn near anything into a sporting event. If there are two bugs crawling in the same direction, an American boy will sit and watch to see which one gets to a certain point first.
Such is much of the fascination with the presidential selection system that has evolved over the years. It has changed from a convention, one race, one time race to a now six to eight month long series of races, horse races if you will, that our media focuses on almost to the exclusion of everything else. Even news that should affect issues in the races is often ignored. And here in Iowa where we are in the middle of the very first race, we often hear little else that happens in the world.
Here are a couple of things that happened in the past couple weeks that may be of major importance in evaluating a president.
First : Weather
First off it is quite warm in Iowa. Quite, quite warm for December and January. With most of the hottest years on record coming in the past two decades it is very scary to think what this trend means. For one thing, some scientists have indicated that we are nearing or may have passed some irreversible tipping points. And remember the whole world has weather and many places in the world have had incredible hot temperatures.
I have read some opinions recently that the mild winter will have consequences for our food crops, especially organics. While the non-organics can still add nitrogen the natural process is dependent on snow and cold. And for all crops the insects that attack them are usually mitigated by winter. Without winter to kill off the bugs, plus the migration of new bugs may have consequences next fall. Remember also that Iowa is the least diverse farming culture in the world with most of our crops being either corn or soybeans.
Second: Heating fuels
We still do have to deal with winter cold in the US. Our conventional ways of heating in this country are becoming much more dangerous and expensive while we do little to transform our country to renewable energies and smart delivery systems.
– While we no longer use coal in our homes, it is of course our main source of electricity. I think most folks know just how serious a polluter coal is. Plus the methods for extraction are a ecological disaster along with being quite dangerous.
– Oil has been the background cause for our buildup of a huge military if not the cause for wars itself. Plus pollution is a major concern. And now there are many indications that oil is running out
– Natural gas. Many looked at NG as the savior that would lease us some time to transition from the oil based economy. But the extraction method currently in favor has become a major source of concern. Last week an earthquake in Youngstown, Ohio of all places highlighted at least one of the major problems with the fracking method for getting NG. Destroying the ground we live on is a heck of a price to pay for heat
– Nuclear power has many problems. One of the huge red flags to me is that no insurance company will insure a nuclear power plant. That should tell you all you need to know about nuclear power. But if you need more convincing, look at Fukishima.
So what does that leave? Well, it leaves the answer that most other advanced countries are pursuing with vigor. That is some combination of solar / wind / renewable fuel. The evidence is in and the answer is about as plain as the noses on our collective faces. While America continues to be held hostage by the fossil fuel industries, other countries are workin hard to free themselves from the chains that being beholden to one industry can cause.
While the goal of freeing our country from the dependency of fossil fuels is in itself admirable, creating this infrastructure would create thousands possibly millions of jobs. So even the side effects of creating a new energy infrastructure will pay huge dividends. The commerce created by the investment in this new infrastructure would be incredible. My guess is that it would be many times that of the Eisenhower Interstate system.
And if we do not do this, we will slowly slide into the role of the sick man of the western world. We will be sitting by while other countries capture the benefits of lower cost, more easily controlled energy sources.