Americans today have lost sight of what should be America’s, as well as other countries’, ultimate goal in terms of energy: reducing carbon emissions. With the new surge in oil production opportunities in the United States and in friendlier countries than Saudi Arabia such as Canada and Brazil, people have forgotten how much damage the carbon emissions resulting from heavy gasoline and oil use have done to the world. Global warming is still as big a problem as it ever was, and it will only get worse if America continues to promote the production of oil.
There are many who do not believe that global warming is a threat, or that it is much less important than facilitating economic growth or becoming energy independent. These global warming skeptics are misguided. They fuss over tenths of degrees Fahrenheit, but do not see the bigger picture. The fact of the matter is that global carbon emissions are on the rise, and the United States is not doing enough to stop it.
Oil proponents often argue that the because the United States’ carbon emissions are at their lowest since 1994, the United States does not need to make any changes in policy towards its carbon emissions. However, this low is, to a large extent, caused by the economic recession that afflicted the United States in 2008. In the coming years, however, economic growth in the United States will cause carbon emissions to begin rising again unless the country as a whole makes a conscious effort to minimize carbon emissions, rather than rely on increasing fuel efficiency to do this task.
Meanwhile, the United States needs to end its promotion of the oil sands in Canada. The processing of oil sands in Canada is extremely carbon intensive, producing 17 percent more greenhouse gases than conventional crude oil. With this increase in carbon emissions, Canada will not meet its goals of lowering its carbon footprint. The long term goal of lowering carbon emissions worldwide must be held above the shortsighted goal of profit, and the executives of the oil industry cannot be allowed to change that.
People often argue that the goal of moving off of oil dependence into cleaner and renewable fuels, or “green energy”, is impractical and idealistic. They claim that green energies can never replace oil. In some cases, they are correct; oil cannot be replaced by green energy. Replacing oil completely, however, is not the goal of climate protection advocates. Where oil cannot be replaced, it will stay, and where it can be replaced, it will be. Oil will not be phased out overnight, for it cannot be. This change will come gradually, over time. At the same time this change takes place, the energy companies must make the same change, moving towards the production of more green energy than oil, preventing economic turmoil from government mandated oil downsizing. This goal may sound rather lofty, but it is far from impractical. European countries, for example, France, have been very much able to make this shift towards clean and renewable energy. There is no reason why the United States cannot.
While this goal of reducing carbon emissions to save the climate from global warming is more important than shortsighted goals economic growth and development, reduction of carbon emissions and economic growth are not at all mutually exclusive; they can coexist. Green energy can create jobs just as oil production can. It can also grant the same energy independence that oil can. Green energy is not nearly as limited as the oil industry paints it as, and shifting to green energy, away from oil, will benefit the entire world’s climate greatly.