By John Addison (10/23/09)
President Barack Obama called for a clean energy future in his speech today at MIT. America has long been the innovation global leader thanks to great universities and research institutions. He called on the students and researchers to help harness more energy from “the wind, the waves, and the sun.”
The Recovery Act, now law, represents the largest single boost in scientific research in history. The proposed Senate Climate Bill (Boxer-Kerry) with cap-and-trade provisions will accelerate clean transportation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and start grid innovation and jobs. If we have new climate and energy legislation, it will be easier for you to get an electric car and have it powered by renewable energy through a smart grid.
Powering more cars and public transportation with wind and solar energy, reduces our dependency on oil. The President referred to a Pentagon study that documented how our dependency on oil to be a national security threat.
The timing of the speech was no accident. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is co-sponsor of the energy and climate bill being debated in the Senate. Market co-sponsored the House ACES bill that was approved. Passage of a Senate bill could save the December Copenhagen agreement, which in turn could save our children from draughts and food shortages increasingly connected with the warming caused by green house gas emission increases.
With global leaders negotiating energy and climate issues, United States recalcitrance makes any agreement difficult. Obama warned that the closer the Senate gets to an agreement, the more that some will fight change, and the more visible they will make their claims. The President said, “There will be those who contradict the overwhelming scientific evidence.” He warned of those how say that we have lost our “can-do” American spirit. “I reject that.” He said, and then referred to Americans entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors are all around us. He said, “This is the nation that harnessed electricity.”
Thanks to MIT computer science innovation, my former employer Digital Equipment came into being, and transformed computing. Digital disrupted the mainframe-centric industry, only to find itself disrupted by personal computing and the Internet. Digital is now part of Hewlett-Packard. Thousands of computer science innovations have been dismissed as unworkable lab experiments, then fought as job killers, and finally embraced as a more efficient way to work. If the naysayers of past decades had stopped progress, we’d still use our fingers for counting instead of using smart phones.
In past decades, we could have done nothing. As a result we would have saved the jobs of
keypunch operators. Now, we can do nothing and save some oil and coal jobs or we can move forward and make the United States a world leader in transportation, energy efficiency, and harvest the abundance of sun and the wind.