Monday, October 19, 2009

Greens: Fighting for Farmers

If Michael Moore's latest film has got you worried that Congress is giving all our money to the meltdown-makers on Wall Street you can breathe a sigh of relief. It isn't all going to Wall Street; much of it is going to the fossil-fuel industry.

The Environmental Law Institute's recent study (Estimating U.S. Government Subsidies to Energy Sources: 2002-08) describes how our senators and representatives coddled the major greenhouse-gas emitters even while the enormity of global warming was growing clearer by the day. The study demonstrates that between 2002 and 2008 the fossil-fuel industry raked in subsidies totaling $72 billion. In other words, even after scientists established the reality of climate change beyond reasonable doubt Congress kept on transferring enormous sums of public money to private entities that willfully damage the public interest.

Seventy-two billion dollars: That's a lot of money. What if we made a similar investment in genuine renewables (not fake solutions like biomass and cap-and-trade carbon gambling programs)? With an investment on that scale we could transform our lives for the better and pull the CO2 in the atmosphere back down toward 350 ppm.

This is do-able. One recent report in Scientific American claims that we can switch from fossil-fuels to 100% renewable energy in ten years, making a clean break with goal, oil, and gas. At the same time we could be investing in organic farming, which is a reliable and productive method of capturing carbon according to another study, this one from the Worldwatch Institute.

Sequestering carbon through organic farming is good news for all of us, and Green politicians need to get out front, leading the demand for greater investment for our region's organic farmers. There are hundreds of organic farmers working the land in our part of the world (e.g. the members of NOFA), fighting climate change and feeding us at the same time. They should be able to count on Greens as active, vocal allies.

Spending $72 billion on coal and oil is the height of fossil-foolery. Let's put that folly behind us, and start investing in the land and the families who farm it responsibly.

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