George Shultz, who served as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State from 1980 through 1984, is urging strong action on climate change and urging the US to move away from oil.
In an interview in the July 24 issue of Scientific American magazine, Mr. Shultz said that dependence on oil weakens US national security; using coal for electricity ‘gets us nowhere’; using solar power is better than coal and natural gas; and that the US should increase funds for renewable energy research and development.
Mr. Shultz, saying he wanted to ‘walk the talk’, said he installed solar panels on his own roof six years ago – and the savings on his electric bill since then have paid for the initial investment.
He also said that he drives an electric car (a Nissan LEAF), saying “I have a charging device in my garage so I figure I’m driving on sunshine, and it’s free. It doesn’t cost me anything, so I kind of like it.”
“….you look at these little kids and they’re so full of vitality and curiosity and so much fun in them. You can’t help but ask yourself: What kind of a world are they going to inherit, and what can I dredge out of my experience that might be put into place to help make it a little better?”
Shultz’s comments are in stark contrast with current GOP leadership, particularly in the US Congress, where top Republican legislators, including James Inhoffe (R-LA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Hoevell (R-ND), have called global warming ‘a hoax’ and continue to:
- block EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases
- seek approval of the carbon-intensive projects including the Keystone ‘tar sands’ Pipeline and new Alaskan offshore drilling projects
- prevent increased federal funding for solar, wind and other renewable energy promotion
- defend the billion-dollar federal subsidies to the fossil-fuel industries
- support an increase in coal production
- fight Federal efforts to consider climate implications of energy policy decisions
The stubborn refusal of current mainstream Republican Congressmen to accept the near-universal consensus of the global scientific community, which states that current climate change is real and caused largely by man-made fossil fuel emissions, continues amidst the release of new reports, almost daily, which document the symptoms of a rapidly changed climate:
- World climate extremes are unprecedented.
- Rapidly melting arctic ice (with new warnings that such melting will soon cause massive new methane emissions, with dramatic economic and social consequences).
- Global oceans, particularly in the Arctic, are acidifying more rapidly than previously predicted, with significant climate change implications.
- Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are now at higher levels than ever before experienced in human history (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
There is irony in the current GOP collective refusal to take action on climate change; it was none other than Republican icon Ronald Reagan who led the first international efforts to limit greenhouse emissions, resulting in the “Montreal Protocol” which, to this day, remains the only large-scale international treaty which limits greenhouse gas emissions.
Reagan signed the treaty on April 5, 1988, citing “the future quality of the global environment and the health and well-being of all peoples of the world.”
The laws of chemistry and physics might agree: it was a slightly different Republican party back then.