As Sam complained in that famous Dr. Suess poem, “I don’t like green eggs and ham,” so too have environmentalists not preferred the terms “green” and “coal” on the same page. Unfortunately, the reality of the environmental and energy challenges are growing more difficult by the day. The U.S. and China—both the largest consumers of energy and the largest producers of carbon emissions—are facing unpalatable tradeoffs in their strategic energy portfolios as they plan for increased energy consumption in the future. The link between the environment and national security is clear. Environmental instability must be incorporated into a national security strategy. In the case of energy, the difficult tradeoff is providing the massive power necessary to fuel the world’s largest economy while remaining mindful of the damaging effects on the environment.
Are you willing to turn off your refrigerator or computers for the next 30 years while alternative energy technology catches up to power needs? Would you expect the Chinese to do the same? Riding the wave of alternative energy is satisfying, but it is bound to end in disappointment—at least for now. Better to hitch a ride on “dirty” coal to power the economy of tomorrow, so argues James Fallows in his new article featured this month in The Atlantic, “Dirty Coal, Clean Future.” Fallows presents one of the most clear-eyed, realistic approaches to the energy and climate change problem in a long while. It is time to seriously consider America’s strategic approach and financial investments in the energy economy of tomorrow. Before betting the farm on alternative energy, a realistic assessment of this problem and the available solutions may save both the environment and a few bucks in the process.
Read the full article by Eric S. Morse: “Green Coal? The Environmental / Strategic Tradeoff.”