Thursday, September 30, 2010

Former President Clinton believes adapting to climate change key to economic recovery

Former President Bill Clinton has a proposition for America's current leaders as to how to put the country back to work again: Start taking our changing climate more seriously.

Clinton, appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman on Monday, September 20th to promote the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), described the correlation between America's unemployment and our need to 'go green' as simple.

It, of course, just takes a little forward thinking.

"All this climate change stuff is real, and I know a lot of people want to deny it and they think we can't afford to deal with it now that the economy's bad," Clinton said during his interview on Letterman. "But the truth is, I believe changing the way we produce and consume energy is the number one thing we could do to explode the American economy again."

The climate change stuff Clinton is referring to, in part, is the melting of the polar ice caps due to global warming. The result is extreme weather occurances happening all over the world at an alarming rate.

It's becoming harder and harder to ignore. In the last decade, insurance payouts for natural disasters were three times the amount they'd been in any prior decade, according to Clinton.

Going green is essential, he says. The less dependent we are on resources that are imported, like petroleum oil, and the more dependent we become on solar energy instead of electricity, the better off we'll be.

Now, many Americans are without jobs because of the crash in the housing market, and there isn't a great need for office buildings currently. So, Clinton says, instead of waiting for things to change, we should be putting our efforts into making our current houses and buildings more energy efficient.

"It's not rocket science," he explained.

One example Clinton gave was a project currently underway on the Empire State Building. Upon its completion, the renovations will cut utility use at least 38 percent, and would pay for itself - through utility savings only - in approximately six years.

Clinton believes, if embraced on a broader scale, projects like this could make a real difference.

The first positive is the fact that in these projects, jobs are being created. The next is where it gets tough and the country's collective patience is tested. Businesses, running their operations much more efficiently, would slowly but surely begin to climb out of the red. Eventually, hiring- and pay-freezes would be lifted.

Over time, the economy begins to recover.

It seems to make sense, at least on the forefront.

In 2005, Clinton, with the help of many other current and former world leaders, established CGI to address issues across the globe - no matter how big or small - by asking for "commitments to action" from whoever is willing. It was founded mainly on the belief that federal governments need collaboration from non-governmental organizations and other global leaders to effectively overcome the world's most pressing problems.

To date, CGI members have made commitments valued at $57 billion, effecting more than 220 million lives in 170 countries.

Similar commitments to actions, by Americans, specifically, would make all the difference in the world. Cost of operation for businesses would go down. Jobs would be created immediately, and over time after companies began to surplus more and more.

"I think we could bring back manufacturing to America and have enormous economic growth," Clinton said. "It's just a question whether you see it as an opportunity or a burden.

"We could put America back to work if we took this seriously."

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