Let’s Stop Ignoring the Obvious
by Jared Rosen and David Rippe
Many Americans are oblivious to the energy they waste.
We don’t see the connection between our lack
of energy conservation, cruising around in cars that
get poor gas mileage, high fuel prices, wars in the
Middle East and global warming. We’re disconnected
from the repercussions of our actions and habits.
We’ll drive on toward oblivion, complaining
all the way.
All Americans could significantly reduce their energy
consumption, save lots of money, and reduce pollution
at the same time. It’s an easy choice to make.
Unfortunately, most people don’t want to make
even the slightest sacrifice. In the upside-down world
described in our book, The Flip (www.theflip.net),
people do not correlate unbridled consumption of finite
resources like coal and oil with personal responsibility.
The United States comprises 4% of the earth’s
population but we consume over 25% of its energy.
We think it is our God-given right to live excessively.
Well, it’s certainly a choice, but it is not
Upside down consumers think there is an endless supply
of energy, and if not, we’ll find some other
technology in the future to supply our needs. But
energy supply is only a part of the problem. The burning
of fossil fuels, along with other devastating human
activities, is causing serious damage to our environment,
precipitating global warming on an unprecedented scale.
Yes, there are those who deny global warming exists.
But, seriously, there is no debate. There is only
doubt stirred by big-pocket business interests to
distract and misinform. The facts have been settled,
global warming is real, it’s dangerous, and
it’s cooking a neighborhood near you.
That a capitalistic powerhouse like the United States
needs energy resources to secure and maintain its
dominance is easy to grasp. Energy runs our factories,
lights our homes, fuels our cars, illuminates our
television sets, keeps us warm and provides a hundred
other positive benefits. We are not arguing that energy
usage is bad. We are only stating that in the upside-down
world, mindless consumption is not only selfish and
irresponsible, but dangerous and potentially deadly
for our children, grandchildren and all future generations.
The question is not whether abundant energy is useful;
rather what are the cheapest, most reliable, renewable
sources of energy? We are informed that energy production
and consumption is a complicated matter that we shouldn’t
worry our pretty little heads about. The people who
control the energy supply profess to be of, by, and
for the people, but in fact operate solely in the
best interest of their profits. And the profits are
huge. Those at the top of the energy food chain do
- 4 of the 7 most profitable companies in the upside-down
world are oil companies—Exxon Mobil, Royal
Dutch Shell, BP and Chevron
- Here is the 2005 breakdown in profit, not sales,
- Exxon Mobil made $31.6 billion
- Royal Dutch Shell made $25.3 billion
- BP made $21.7 billion
- Chevron made $14.1 billion
- Combined the four oil companies made $92.7 billion
in profit in 2005
- Total value of these four companies is nearly
The Bush Administration and our corrupt Congress
didn’t feel that was enough profit so plopped
a cherry on top of the sundae with $14.5 billion worth
of tax breaks and incentives via the industry-friendly
Energy Bill passed in August 2005. We don’t
begrudge anyone the right to make a profit. A modest
profit seems reasonable, especially if funds are reinvested
in research and development for alternative technologies
to harness renewable sources. What we find perturbing
is the brazen gouging and massive profiteering. Recent
headlines about BP forging Alaskan pipeline inspection
documents and coercing workers to lie clearly show
the “profit above people” mentality of
Something must be done.
The Apollo Alliance (www.apolloalliance.org)
is perhaps the best conceived, most far-reaching energy
initiative ever envisioned, a true-blue flip. Modeled
after the bold mission announced by John F. Kennedy
to put a man on the moon, the Apollo Alliance seeks
to do use the same “can-do” spirit to
achieve a secure supply of clean, affordable and sustainable
energy. It seeks to rally the country around a green
economy that will create millions of jobs, clean up
the environment, and reduce our dependency on foreign
Apollo offers a plan that makes so much sense that
only the most jaded and greedy among us in the upside-down
world can reject it. It is not based on unreachable
pie-in-the-sky dreams, but rather sound, achievable
science and technology. We love it! Here is their
10 Point Plan:
- Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars
- Invest in More Efficient Factories
- Encourage High Performance Building
- Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances
- Modernize Electrical Infrastructure
- Expand Renewable Energy Development
- Improve Transportation Options
- Reinvest in Smart Urban Growth
- Plan for a Hydrogen Future (a green one)
- Strengthen Regulatory Protections
What might be achieved with the realization of Apollo?
Economically, we can expect to add 3.3 million much-needed
American jobs, stimulate $1.4 trillion in Gross Domestic
Product and produce $284 billion in net energy cost
Environmentally, we can reduce national energy consumption
by 16%, reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 28%; reduce
carbon dioxide emissions by 23%; reduce nitrous oxide
emissions by 13%. Other major benefits include reducing
our dependence on foreign oil, restoration of America’s
withering leadership in technological innovation,
reduction of our burgeoning trade deficit, rebuilding
of our aging infrastructure, and improved social equity
for low income workers by increasing job access and
How much will it cost, you wisely ask? A modest investment
of $300 billion over ten years—or less than
what Bush, Inc. has spent prosecuting the Iraq War
to date. This seems a paltry sum given the opportunity
to eliminate the need for such wars to begin with,
save our environment, and reduce our energy costs.
In the Right Side Up world, we’d already be
implementing Apollo. So what’s the hard part?
First, we have to get beyond the staid thinking and
status quo investments of the current administration
and its energy industry masters. They are not part
of the problem—they are actually the root cause
and have no intention of finding solutions. One recent
outrageous example of this is the unconscionable Pentagon
action, at the behest of the Administration, which
placed a moratorium on building new wind farms under
the guise of national security.
The Administration is subverting the will of the people
with subterfuge and misinformation to protect their
moneyed interests. They think we’re too stupid
to see the truth or too complacent to act. But once
again, the public is ahead of the politicians and
the media on the issue. A 2005 study by the Pew Research
Center for the People & the Press found that seven
out of 10 people want tax cuts for companies to develop
wind, solar and hydrogen energy. Eight in 10 want
higher fuel efficiency for cars, trucks and SUVs.
We need an Apollo program to ramp up the production
of clean and green technology. We cannot allow government
officials and industry leaders to play dice with the
atmosphere of our planet. Find your voice. Show your
support for common sense solutions like the Apollo
Alliance by calling your elected officials and contacting
the media. Right now.
We envision the day when you can harness the sun’s
inextinguishable power to generate electricity from
your own rooftop or turn your garbage into hydrogen
fuel right in your garage. Imagine being that self-sufficient.
Imagine a secure nation with no pipelines and power
stations for terrorists to target. Imagine no more
wars for oil. Imagine your children growing up playing
under blue skies, drinking clean water. Imagine taking
a deep refreshing breath, filling your lungs with
the life force, feeling invigorated. Can you see it?
In the Right Side Up world it is as clear as a crisp
Jared Rosen and David Rippe are coauthors of The
Flip—Turn Your World Around, Hampton Roads Publishing
Company. They can be reached at www.theflip.net