The Gustavian Weekly

Economic Change or Environmental Sustainability? How About Both? | The Gustavian Weekly

By Mark Siatta Opinion Columnist | January 23, 2015 | Opinion

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 5.47.28 PMRecent drivers have been jovial to see a drop in gas prices when pulling into the gas station. During the same time Americans have also seen the strength of our dollar rise. This is important for it simultaneously increases both our purchasing power and the overall confidence in the economy.

With oil prices down, many executives and shareholders of oil companies are feeling their pockets thinning ever so slightly. This added to the ever-evident impact of climate change signifies the progression of a changing of the guard. Simply stated, innovation in how and what types of energy we use has to occur within our country if we plan on continuing being an economic leader.

The significance of these changes directly impacts us as students right now and for the foreseeable future. One major effect forthcoming that many recent and future graduates will appreciate is the availability of jobs in developing energy fields. With more of a focus on sustainability, energy companies will need the help of our generation to bring ideas and a dedication to the new and emerging sectors of the economy that will take form.

This change is not expected to happen overnight but it is imperative that is does take place during the current decade. In capitalist societies competition is revered and it’s survival of the fittest, but sometimes the fittest isn’t necessarily the best for society as a whole. The oil companies still have a strangle hold on most of the world markets and do not want to give up that type of hegemony. This is one of the main reasons why the development and implementation of cleaner, greener energy sectors have been stymied.

The lack of support for energy innovation from the oil conglomerates is illustrated by the countless attempts to reinvent and maintain the dominance these companies have. Exemplified by the continued insistence and push for Fracking, and most recently the Keystone Pipeline proposal. All of these claim to provide cleaner, safer ways to mine and utilize oil and/or gas, while concurrently providing jobs and maintaining America as a world leader.

Support has to come from us as consumers and potential investors as well as backing from the government.

The truth is anything but that. In regards to the Keystone Pipeline, the jobs that would be created are mostly temporary, not to mention the immense risk that would be undertaken by the states in which the pipe flows through. The similar dangers of which were disastrously displayed during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Fracking is another fruitless endeavor, in that it is extremely costly and immensely risky for the areas surrounding the fracking site. The consequences from these types of energy sources should disproportionately further the discussion towards truly cleaner solutions.

That is why it is crucial for green energy companies to gain more support. Support has to come from us as consumers and potential investors as well as backing from the government. Some of the different types of products or services could take the form of solar panels on buildings, electric and or water powered cars, high-speed rail trains and other such energy and cost saving products. The developments from this type of innovation could have profound effects in curtailing climate change while also opening new opportunities in the United States for entrepreneurs and job seekers.

By accommodating this change we are not only providing the United States with homage to the 1950’s excellence we experienced, but also leading by example through delivering a sustainable and environmentally friendly business sector in order to leave the world in better condition than we inherited it. Should this not be the goal of every person let alone every nation?

Implementing this change will no doubt be difficult for some; particularly those with a vested interest in companies that would see their influence drastically diminish. But, if we are to be true capitalist we must accept the change for the better, as it will open up new sectors to thrust our influence in. The push back will begin to deter once the positive effects are seen in regards to employment, our economy as a whole, and most importantly the environment.

Recent graduates and those people who have been out of work should be able to begin to find sustainable jobs, while also producing a profound positive effect on the environment. Who knows, if these innovations do take hold we could see a rebirth of Detroit becoming the hydro-car manufacturer of the world.

-Mark Siatta