Protecting our environment requires changing how our essential resources are managed and how our energy needs are met. Political decisions on our energy future should not be left to a cartel of multinational companies that favor fossil fuels and other dirty energy sources, or to Wall Street and the financial services industry that is eager to cash in on our dwindling essential resources.
While some advocate putting a price on nature and profiting off of our remaining natural resources, mechanisms like cap and trade are easy to manipulate to maximize profits and have a poor track record of actually reducing pollution. Rather than relying on hard to understand schemes that have no political traction, we should fight for the policies we really want. Let’s work to keep fossil fuels in the ground and make an immediate shift to renewables and energy efficiency.
Climate Change and Fracking
In an effort to protect our access to safe food and clean drinking water, we must halt climate change. This means radically changing the way we produce energy, moving decisively towards a sustainable, renewable energy future.
Fracking, promoted by the oil and gas industry and even some national environmental groups as a “bridge fuel,” will only prolong our dependence on fossil fuels. The huge capital investment necessary to develop wells and the infrastructure to support the industry will lock us into using natural gas for decades to come.
Don’t be fooled by the industry line that gas has lower carbon emissions, because a growing body of scientific studies has documented that producing and distributing fracked gas releases vast amounts of methane — an even more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
We must collectively grow a mass movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground and hasten the development of renewables. Food & Water Watch is developing state-based policies that will jumpstart the transition to renewables by organizing people to support these policies—even as the oil and gas industry fights them.
Other Forms of Extreme Energy: Incinerators and Dirty Manure to Energy Projects
Incinerators and manure to energy projects are often touted as renewable or clean, but they are associated with high levels of air pollution—and are placed mostly in communities of color or other disadvantaged communities. Like other dirty energy projects, they are not only unsustainable—they pose an environmental justice issue and, in the case of manure to energy, rely on an unsustainable factory farm model.
Putting a Price on Nature
When an economist or banker looks out at an expanse of virgin forest or free-flowing river, they don’t just see nature — they see “natural capital.” To them, our natural resources should be assigned a value – value that will flow into the pockets of those who already have the most money. This idea is the cornerstone of the “green economy” that corporations and even some major environmental groups are promoting as a solution to our environmental problems.
This is no solution, and is in fact dangerous. Corporations will simply add the cost of paying for pollution to what consumers pay for energy or other products. And our environment will continue to suffer.
Market-based schemes are largely voluntary and unregulated. They represent a drastic and ineffective departure from how we prevented pollution by passing our nation’s environmental laws—from the Clean Air Act to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The federal laws passed in the 1970s helped clean our air and water during the last decades of the 20th century.
Let’s make sure real environmental laws are strengthened, not weakened by letting the “market” decide if we should have a clean and healthy future.