Allegory of the Frog: If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will jump out. But, if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly bring it to a boil, the frog will sit in the pot until it dies.
America is facing serious challenges in the next 10, 20, and 50 years. These challenges also present opportunities. What challenges are we facing? Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum identified four main issues in their book That Used to Be Us. One of them is: managing the rising need for energy and its impact on the climate. This issue is commonly known as Global Warming.
The term Global Warming is used in politics to instill fear and win elections. But, it is not a political stance. Within the debates of Global Warming there are indisputable facts. As any of you who know me can attest, I believe in facts. First and foremost, decisions need to be made based on concrete details. Here are a few facts I know:
Fact 1 – Earth’s unique atmosphere is created by greenhouse gasses which trap heat. Without these gasses the temperature on earth would be 0 degrees (32 degrees Fahrenheit).
Fact 2 – In 1886, the Carbon Dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million. By 2011, it increased to 390.
Fact 3 – Between 1880 and 1970, the earth’s average temperature increased roughly .03 degrees centigrade each decade. This means, in 90 years, the earth’s temperature increased just 1 full degree Fahrenheit. (Fact provided by the Earth Policy Institute (EPI), a non-partisan organization.)
Fact 4 – Since 1970, the earth’s average temperature has increased dramatically to .13 degrees Centigrade per decade. Meaning, the earth’s temperature increased 1 full degree Fahrenheit every 40 years. (Fact provided by EPI.)
Fact 5 – Cheap forms of energy production, such as burning coal and oil, release carbon gas into the atmosphere. These carbon emissions are the “carbon footprint” which causes Global Warming.
Going back to the Allegory of the Frog, I don’t believe we will continue to sit in the pot while it heats up. And, that is where opportunity lies. The International Energy Agency estimates between now and 2050, America will invest $45 trillion in the global energy economy to meet greenhouse standards and keep Global Warming from becoming a more significant problem. Currently, the United States spends $7 trillion on energy.
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