The Most Neglected Fact in the Climate Change Debate
For decades, billionaire lobbyists in the US have been blocking progress on combating climate change. Not only have they been pushing their agenda through Congress so to keep their vast oil, gas and coal monopolies in a state of incessant, desperate motion, pumping, drilling and digging those glorious ancient remains, but they have also been vital in the whipping up of the religious fervor of climate change denialism in the US media.
Trump’s victory is exactly what the lobbyists have been fantasizing about. Above all else, it means that they will have four more years to be left alone with their toxic addictions. The most high profile indication, if we needed one anyway, that Trump will not be divesting away from the hard stuff, is his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. This highly controversial fossil fuel highway is projected to rip up indigenous populations right down the spine of North America and stick one giant middle finger up at the US’s clean energy future.
The Keystone XL pipeline, otherwise known as the ‘Black Snake’ to the indigenous populations, has been one of Trump’s great, jingoistic job-creating pet-projects from the very beginning of his presidential campaign. He has claimed that the construction of Keystone XL could create 20,000 jobs, as well as increase the US’s energy security and boost the economy. Of course, these are are noble goals. Unfortunately, however, it’ll come as an almighty shock for him and the US economy that the Keystone XL won’t bring about even a fraction of the jobs or change that he promises.
Despite the fact that estimating the amount of jobs that construction will create is a wildly misleading thing to do, the construction of the pipeline will produce jobs. Like the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Canada, the Keystone XL will most likely create between 10,000 and 20,000 jobs during peak time over the period it is being constructed, which, for Keystone XL, is only two years. The problem is these jobs will only be temporary, which means for a maximum of two years but potentially a lot less.
The estimates for long-term jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline are vastly different and probably something the President doesn’t want to be repeated all too often. With that in mind, I’ll try and repeat it as often as I can. The state department estimates that only 35, yes 35, long-term jobs will be created. So, not only will the Keystone XL pipeline continue the delusion of attempting to succeed in booming the economy through digging, pumping and drilling the already battered and bruised surface of our planet, but it will also only scrape together 35 long-term jobs. Not to mention the problems it will cause for the indigenous populations.
Senator Bernie Sanders, during his presidential run, also had the energy industry at the forefront of his campaign. Like Trump, he claimed that, if run his way, the energy industry could also be the economic driver in creating a swell of decent jobs for the American people. His plan? Lead the clean energy revolution. Bernie wanted to implement a 100% clean energy solution for the US, which would in turn create ‘millions’ of jobs.
According to the Sanders campaign, the solar industry is already adding workers 20 times faster than the rest of the economy, with over 80,000 living-wage, long-term jobs already in the bag. And, for every billion dollars invested, somewhere between 7000-8000 jobs would be created. That’s 10 times more when compared to investments in fossil fuels. Sanders’ proposals, when compared to Trump’s dictatorial and barbarous hostility toward clean energy, felt, and still feels, like a real breath of fresh air, but do they stack up?
Well, to put it bluntly, yes. It is really no secret, and hasn’t been for many years, that a transition toward sustainability would utterly transform the economy and give it the boom it needs. The Solutions Project, among other similar projects in the US, run by a handful of scientists, academics, actors and entrepreneurs, is leading the way when it comes to transplanting the clean energy solution into the mainstream. Not only do they back up Sanders’ claims, but they do it with beautiful, evidence based infographics.
A total transition toward sustainability would mean a 39% reduction in the demand for power, thanks to the improvement in energy efficiencies. It would also mean over 45,000 lives are saved every year due to the significant drop in air pollution, which consequentially would reduce healthcare costs. For the individual, it would mean saving roughly 10,000 dollars every year because clean energy is cheap. For the country, it would mean around 4 million extra jobs in constructions and operations, which would last for 40 consecutive years or more.
Why, then, if a shift toward clean energy would absolutely transform the country, is it not on everyone’s lips and on every front page around the US? The fact is because there are a select few people, including Trump, that do not want it there. Whether they believe the evidence or not, the billionaire, special interest, lobbyists are raking in wealth, like they have done for decades, from the fossil fuel industry. Their hands are dirtied with oil and coal and it is simply not in their interests to clean up their act.
If that’s the case, what can we do about it? We must learn from what happened to the tobacco industry and fight them at every corner. We must protest, donate and talk about it until we’re blue in the face. Viva la revolución!