My first American presidential ‘debate’

Last night, I watched my first American presidential debate and couldn’t believe that I was actually being persuaded by Governor Romney that I might have had been harboring an unjustified bias against him, until he threw out this line:

“You put $90 billion — like 50 years’ worth of breaks, into — into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said, you don’t just pick the winners and losers; you pick the losers.”

I didn’t think that President Obama picked the losers; in fact, I was glad to hear that line coming from Governor Romney.

Scorched corn fields in Texas, 2011. Image obtained from Wikimedia.org
Scorched corn fields in Texas, 2011. Image obtained from Wikimedia.org

In the century that we spent largely burning fossil fuels, or carbon, for energy, we have altered our atmosphere, oceans and biosphere drastically. One of the most compelling climate crises that truly shook people up was the drought in the Midwest this past summer. Corn that would grow to seven feet tall under normal circumstances grew only three feet this summer. With the supply of corn halved, various repercussions from the drought like increasing food prices and livestock farmers suffering severe losses adds to the pressure on the president to turn the economy around.

Other examples include the unusually warm spell that caused flowers to bloom in March and the furthest observed retreat of the Arctic sea ice this summer.

It may be hard to believe that a simple molecule like carbon dioxide could wreak so much havoc and this will be a recurring focus in my blog to examine how it is inevitable that in the long run, our energy sources have to shift away from carbon, not towards it. The current methods of producing energy, primarily through burning carbon, release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and there is nothing substantial being done to remove the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

It is true that opening up the natural gas fields in America would create jobs for Americans. The only problem is that the jobs involve the production of energy from carbon, and there is no energy security in carbon-based energy, including biofuels. I cringed when President Obama proudly included that in his list of green energy options. Governor Romney wants to dive into opening up all the carbon that has just recently become accessible – that is only going to exacerbate and accelerate climate change, as in the drought this past summer. In last night’s debate, he said that:

“We know that the path we’re taking is not working; it’s time for a new path.”

And Governor Romney is proposing cuts in research and development in solar and wind energy techniques to return to the path that humans have been taking for centuries – carbon-based energy, which does not work. President Obama’s investments in green energy clearly has not paid off yet, but I believe that they are in the right direction.

Regardless, Governor Romney was much more persuasive to me than President Obama last night. I only kicked myself for having worn red socks when I was watching the debate.