An American Clean (Tech) Revolution

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of The Climate Group. Author credit goes to Bill Moomaw, Steve Westly and Paul Dolan.

Throughout history, American innovation and entrepreneurship have prompted some of the world’s greatest advances. Transcontinental railroads and highways, the space program and the internet each created new markets and opportunities, bringing prosperity to millions. The Wright brothers, Thomas Edison and countless other heroes of American ingenuity have changed the lives of American families for the better.

Today, though, the prospects of providing our children with the same opportunities we’ve fought for and enjoyed are facing two major threats: a stagnant economy, and the increasingly devastating and costly impacts of climate change. The drought, spiking agricultural commodity prices to almost record levels this summer, is just one example of how deeply intertwined these two problems are.

Solar and wind power

image via Shutterstock

If we don’t address climate change, we are setting ourselves up for further, more serious economic repercussions brought about by droughts, storms and rising seas. Food bills for American families will rise. Insurance losses for American businesses will escalate. Agriculture will have to relocate. Our health care system will struggle to deal with new diseases. And aging infrastructure will be subjected to more extreme weather.

The challenge is like few others in our history. We must find a new way forward for our nation. We need a new American revolution. An American Clean Revolution.

This is our opportunity for a better future. A clean revolution means a swift, massive scale-up of clean energy and infrastructure, and of smart technologies and design. It is the commonsense road to a smarter, better, more prosperous world.

Research by Google has shown breakthroughs in clean tech innovation could generate an extra $155-244 billion of GDP per year from 2030 if the right investments are made today. This would result in over $3 trillion of additional, cumulative economic output by 2050. International business opportunities for US companies are also potentially huge. The global clean energy market, for example will be worth $2.2 trillion by the end of the decade according to HSBC. The market for clean economy goods and services is already half this size in the US alone. And the Harvard Business Review tells us that stocks of corporations investing in sustainability are outperforming their peers.

Failure to take global leadership of the fast-growing clean energy market will be the biggest missed opportunity of a generation. China already leads the world in wind energy investment and deployment and is on the cusp of a major expansion in solar power generation. In 2010, it over took the US (and Japan) to become the number one filer of patent applications. America’s choice as to who will lead the world in the development of clean technologies will have a major impact on our long-term interests.

The American clean revolution will help guarantee our security in the new global economy. It will protect us from the threats we face from our reliance on fossil fuels. The US accounts for one fifth of global oil consumption – but has less than 2% of proven reserves. The cost – financial and in terms of lives – of deploying our troops to patrol unstable oil lanes could be a price too great to bear. In 2010 the Pentagon warned that global warming will aggravate many of the world’s already challenging security problems.

The American Clean Revolution is the new American frontier; our chance to re-establish American leadership in the new global world economy, and pioneer the very technologies that will define the 21st century. It is the promise ofmillions of new jobs, improvements to the homes of Americans across the country, energy savings for hard-working families, and clean energy that meets the needs of a revitalized economy.

Leadership and innovation is not only what built America: it’s what will take us forward. The passive acceptance of economic decline through climate change is not the American way. It’s time for bold leadership to drive this transformation, revive our economy, and make our country great again.

It’s time to for us to start a revolution: an American Clean Revolution.

The Climate Group is an independent, not-for-profit organization working to inspire and catalyze leadership for a Clean Revolution: a low carbon future that is smarter, better and more prosperous. For all.

1 Comment

  • Reply November 11, 2012

    Alan Hoffman

    The People Have Spoken

    There were two
    conspicuous points brought up in the President’s Acceptance speech
    election night. The first is the direct reference to freeing us from our
    dependence on foreign oil and the second was his direct plea

    for us to stay engaged. If Americans stay focused on ending the need
    for Petroleum, we can provide permanent solutions to the three greatest
    challenges facing this country and our planet.

    Climate Change

    Militarization to protect vulnerable oil supply lines.

    Jobs that can not be outsourced.

    To the President’s
    credit he has taken us quite a long way towards this transition that
    will be the greatest challenge man has ever faced. Some president’s talk
    and do nothing and this president did things and then for some unknown
    reason didn’t talk about it.

    The American Recovery and
    Reinvestment Act or the “stimulus plan” was partly a stimulus but more
    than half was “Reinvestment” in the American industrial base. The ARRA
    was successful at leapfrogging over existing technologies making it
    financially feasible to use biological systems to replace our reliance
    on dwindling oil reserves. The biggest leap has been in Advanced
    Biofuels making it possible to cost effectively produce liquid fuels
    from organic waste like sewage, farm waste and solid municipal waste and
    the first “at scale” plants are coming on line NOW. The United States
    generates 1.6 Billion tons of organic waste a year costing billions to
    bury or burn. With the right focus we could produce enough advanced
    biofuels by 2018 to end the import of non-North American oil. When Pearl
    Harbor was bombed and we declared war, it took only 6 months to retool
    our industrial infrastructure for war, Americans know how to do that
    very well. Today is even a greater emergency.

    Now that the
    science is complete and the President has called it out as one of his
    top priorities, we must encourage, cajole and pressure him to “Declare
    War on Energy Dependence” and use every tool at his disposal, include
    the bully pulpit to make Advanced Bio-fuels Scale Up our number #1
    National priority.

    We the people must also vote with our
    wallets and let our voices be heard to pressure corporations to use a
    small part of the 2 Trillion dollar horde of money they are holding to
    implement this Advanced Biofuels program. This would bring a Quarter
    Trillion dollars a year home to pay American workers to produce domestic
    biofuels. This will improve our national security by removing the need
    to have American troops around the globe to protect our energy supplies.
    It will bring home One Quarter of a Trillion dollars per year to pay
    American workers improving long-term employment opportunities and this
    plan has the fringe benefit of reducing pollution and carbon in our

    For more information check out
    or Google Green Energy Scale Up.

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