Steven Cohen: We Need Decentralized and Renewable Energy

It’s funny how the idea of thinking of centralized economy is a complete anathema to the right and even to many in the middle and slight left in the United States.  And yet we have a completely centralized energy economy and there is huge resistance to decentralizing it.  Steven Cohen, ED of Columbia’s Earth Institute lays this out so cogently.  Below is straight from his article – emphasis is all mine.  These are just a few paragraphs from a longer article.  The link is at the end.

  • The very real dangers of climate change are a warning that we need to begin the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The trick is doing this while the worldwide consumption of energy continues to grow at a ferocious pace. The other trick is to convince companies that have billions of dollars in sunk costs in the current energy system to stop lobbying against renewable energy and start investing in it.
  • Communities, households and businesses must be encouraged via the tax code to become energy generators. There is of course a precedent for such a massive government intervention in the private market place. It is called home ownership. In 1940, 43.6% of all American Households owned their own homes. By 1960 that had reached 61.9%. This was made possible by making mortgage interest tax deductible and by government-backed mortgage insurance. Yes, I know that during the past two decades we made huge mistakes in housing finance and policy that led to the massive foreclosures of the last several years. That still does not mean that the basic policy of facilitating home ownership was a mistake. We need similar policy creativity to increase the percentage of people generating energy from renewable sources.
  • As the rest of the economy moves away from capital-intensive, highly-centralized production facilities, we need to do the same with energy. As we take that step, let’s also replace our dependence on fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy. Let’s increase government spending on the basic science and R & D needed to develop the breakthrough technologies needed for the transition off of fossil fuels.


TO THE SOURCE: Steven Cohen: We Need Decentralized and Renewable Energy.


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