Jobs or air pollution--is this a false dicotomy?

It looks like battles over the environment and global warming are likely to be central to the American political system for months, perhaps years, to come. Right now the punditocracy and the lobbyists on both sides are tossing rockets over a bill about global warming.

It looks like battles over the environment and global warming are likely to be central to the American political system for months, perhaps years, to come. Right now the punditocracy and the lobbyists on both sides are tossing rockets over a bill about global warming. The bill is before the U.S. Senate. Even if it were to pass the current President would never sign it. So this is a run-up to such battles to be fought after January, 2009. Here are some of the players and their plays:

Tomorrow the Natural Resources Defense Council and some allies are going to lay out how green tech would actually create jobs for Americans. Installing and maintaining solar panels, ditto for wind turbines, manufacturing and marketing biodiesel, etc. etc. Among the folks participating in the press conference will be the Sierra Club and the Steelworkers Union. Every wind turbine needs a support tower.

VC Vinod Khosla thinks there's lotsd of money to be made by changing the energy and housing and lighting markets for billions of humans around the globe. Here's a excerpt for an interview he did for PBS: "It's [cleantech] an economic boom. It's probably the largest economic opportunity we've seen in a long time, maybe ever. But there are also likely to be bubbles. Anytime there's a boom, there is a bubble and I like to think not in terms of stock market prices. Because when there's a boom everybody gets interested, you get false acceleration [...] So I suspect sometime in the next 10 years we'll see a bubble on stock prices. But it won't change the rate of the development of the basic technologies."

Today the White House fired its first major salvo in the war. President Bush said it would cost the economy $6 trillion. Is that a coincidence that it would be twice as expensive, by White House estimates, as political enemies of Bush say the Iraq War already is? Sadly nobody seems to be simply talking about environmental issues anymore, this is a war to the death, or at least a war for power and profits. But if it really did cost us six trillion dollars ot stop polluting the air and drive more efficient cars and burn less coal and build nuclear plants and.... Well, even the Steelworkers wouldn't like that one bit. Sadly I'm not sure there's anybody peddling the facts on this one. If there's science involved it's wrapped in significant layers of political cant on both sides.

GLOBAL WARMING AND THE ON-GOING ORGY?

One of our fearless national leaders is quoted as saying there's an energy orgy going on. Bold words indeed. I am not sure he could say that over an FCC-regulated medium. You and I are only paying for the fun, we were not allowed to actually, you know, be hands-on participants. "There is an orgy of speculation in the oil futures market." Thus spaketh US Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

THE BILL ITSELF

First, the bill will never pass into law. Second,it's aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 2% per year. Doesn't start until 2012. So global warming is really important, but not important enough to do anything right away. Unless, of course, you belong to the church of No Global Warming. In that case we should stop worrying and party on. So just the discussion of the bill and those for, and against, will produce considerable increase in human-sourced CO2 emissions in the Washington D.C. region.

WHAT'S THIS GOT TO DO WITH CLEANTECH?

The eventual fate of federal legislation on global warming will affect how investments in energy cleantech move in the future. You think the Steelworkers are involved in this issue because they love polar bears or wanna save coral reefs? No, this is America so this is about money. Who has it. Who gets it. Buying oil from Saudi or even Canada doesn't produce a lot of steelworker jobs in the US. Building and installing wind turbines or solar farms, that could produce jobs. So the Senators from urban, solar, corn and wind states will tend to love global warming legilsation. Senators from Detroit, coal and petroleum states will despise it. What really makes sense for the planet and those creatures trying to live thereon?

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