As business owners, we examine every cost with a critical eye. Our bottom line -- our ability to make a profit, and the livelihoods of millions of families in America who depend on us demand an honest appraisal of the realities confronting us.
No one would dispute, for instance, that a business that does not budget for rent increases or rising fuel costs for a commercial fleet in the coming years is in for a rude awakening. Businesses will fail if we don't plan with creativity and care.
That is why it is troubling to us as business owners to watch the reaction of some in our great country to the current debate over the climate legislation that will be taken up by the Senate in September. Meaningful climate legislation, not industry bailouts or the status quo, is necessary now for two principal reasons.
First, the data is clear that climate change is real. The Earth's temperature has risen 1.4 degrees around the world since the late 19th Century and is expected to continue upward. Even if humans have not caused the climate change we see now, the reality is that our planetary climate does change over time. If we are to survive as a civilization, we must come to terms with how to accommodate climate change going forward.
"Ignoring climate change and continuing to base our economy on fossil fuels will put our economy through worse spasms than the current recession."
Second, gasoline at well over $4 a gallon in the summer of 2008 is without doubt a taste of the future. Last fall, the International Energy Agency estimated that our oil supply will peak around 2020 and that crude oil shortfalls will follow, which will push gasoline prices relentlessly higher.
Ignoring climate change and continuing to base our economy on fossil fuels will put our economy through worse spasms than the current recession. The economy will speak if given a chance. For example, Inside Indiana Business notes, "Large scale wind turbines are popping up across rural Indiana. At last count, there were about 310 turbines in Benton and Tippecanoe counties, producing more than 530 megawatts of electricity each year. Another nearly 175 turbines, estimated to generate about 200 megawatts of power, are under construction in Benton and White counties." This is three-quarters of a gigawatt of power, nearly the output of a nuclear power plant with available technology constructed and put into service in just a few years.
Clinging to the status quo of dirty coal and big oil no longer makes sense. The U.S. has a huge opportunity to establish a long-term economic development program through energy efficiency and renewable energy. We have led every technological revolution of the last two centuries -- electricity, railroads, the telephone, automobiles, the television, computers -- and there's no reason we can't lead the clean energy revolution that has already begun.
As business owners we inherently understand the need to plan ahead. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to get it right. Driven by common sense, not ideology, we know the time to act is now. We hope that Senators Lugar and Bayh take this opportunity to push America in the right direction -- away from the dirty fuels of the past and toward the clean energy of the future.
Sam F. Miller, AIA, LEED A.P.
President, Solstice Architecture, Inc.
Sam F. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.