The New York Times published this article today about how the global economic slowdown may adversely affect the effort to build and transition to a green energy grid. As the prices for coal, oil and other fossil fuels have plummeted in the past two months the incentive to build solar power plants, wind farms, and even nuclear plants has dissipated. Interestingly the side-effect of this drop in commodity prices may also save Detroit’s big three automakers as it may make their vehicles (which aren’t so fuel efficient) more affordable to operate than they were six months ago.

I think President-elect Obama, though, is right. The time to move is now. We need to keep our eye on the longer goal of reducing our overall greenhouse gas emissions and preventing long term global warming that may result and be subequently irreversible. It is going to be painful, no doubt, but we have been living recklessly and irresponsibly for far too long. Mankind may be facing its own extinction level event if we do nothing to right the environmental damage we have wrought on this world. I don’t mean to sound so gloomy and alarmist but we cannot continue to pursue this wreckless behavior and expect that we won’t have to pay the piper in the end. The economic slowdown can be seen as both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand many people will lose their jobs, their homes, their dignity…and it may not be of their own doing. On the other hand we can use this opportunity, with the concurrent slowdown in emissions and pollution, to rebuild our economy for the 21st century — focusing our efforts on developing and deploying cleaner energy technologies and putting in place the necessary policies and treaties to protect the environment. Because, if the environment goes to hell…so do we as a race and probably as a planet.

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