The Public Square

Kathleen Robbins of Champaign says President Bush is sending the wrong message


The Wrong Message

My name is Kathleen Robbins.

For the last several months President Bush has been on a campaign to convince the American people that Social Security is in imminent danger and needs to be fixed immediately. Is this really what we should be talking about today? Is Social Security our most pressing issue?

Worldwide, oil discovery has peaked. We are paying record amounts at the pump and yet our fuel cost are inexpensive compared to most of the world. We are importing ever-increasing amounts of oil and gas as our domestic supply dwindles. This is not only devastating our economy but funding some cultures that are less than supportive to our way of life. At the same time, while concentrating on fossil fuels we are ignoring the environmental impact that carbon dioxide emissions are having on our planetary system.

Our politicians are betting our future and that of our children on fossil fuels while China and India's energy requirements skyrocket. America consumes over 27% of the world's oil production with less than 5% of the world's people while Asia, with almost 60% consumes only 25% but this is growing rapidly. In 2004 alone, China's oil consumption increased by 33%.

Meanwhile, environment quality continues to degrade. The US Department of Energy said in 2002 the US accounted for 23.5% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels while the whole of Asia, with over 12 times the population, emitted only 33%. What happens to the American economy and the global environment as both Asia's energy demand and emissions increase?

Changes made to Social Security today will make little difference to our children or our grandchildren tomorrow unless we begin to take the difficult steps to conserve fossil fuels while developing multiple sources of clean, renewable energy today An increase in the average automobile fuel efficiency to 39mpg would save three times the amount of oil supposedly in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge each year.

What is needed today and is sorely missing is a bold vision. One that envisions a world of plentiful clean water and air; one in which abundant, clean energy is available to all who need it. A vision that treasures our children's world of tomorrow just as we want our comforts of today.

To develop clean, cost-effective renewable energy will require nothing less than a national commitment, equivalent to the Apollo Program of the 60s. Today is the day; why are we waiting for the next economic or environmental crisis? Isn't it about time to begin?