In his annual State of the Union address this week, President George W. Bush missed the mark when he suggested increasing the use of alternative fuels and enacting tougher mileage requirements for vehicles.
The President wants "energy independence" for the United States. Bush says his plan would trim our use of gasoline by 20 percent over the next decade. To do this Bush proposes increasing the production of alternative fuels such as ethanol. He also wants tougher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks.
Worthwhile goals, but will his plan really make a difference?
Instead, on Tuesday evening the President should have proposed that the U.S. lead the world in combating global warming by dramatically decreasing this nation's consumption of carbon-based fuels. Bush could have suggested that the U.S. set an example for other nations, such as China, to follow.
The earth is warming, more quickly than was first thought. The resulting climate changes will mean major geographic changes, disruptions in our global food supplies, severe weather, and vast species extinction. Dire warnings from respected scientists are becoming more frequent. Noted physicist Stephen Hawking last week added his voice to the growing cacophony.
Global warming will have a drastic impact on the generations ahead. It is the responsibility of the current generation to do its best to head off disaster.
If Bush truely wants history to judge him as a president who accomplished something other than launching a failed Iraq war, he should embark on a bipartisan effort with Congress to slow this nation's use of carbon based fuels, not only in cars and trucks and planes and trains, but also in the production of electricity.
The President and Congress should also work together to prepare the U.S. and the world for the changes wrought by a warmer earth.
The clock is ticking.
- Jeff McDonough