The Correct Response to a Disaster

In the ongoing wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, Japan is doing the right thing.

The Japanese government has announced plans to require all new buildings — commercial and residential — to include solar panels by 2030. The goal is to increase solar capacity in Japan from today's 2600 megawatts to 39,000 megawatts over the next 20 years. That would be enough to provide electricity to about 7 million homes.

Japan's Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies has stated that the goal ought to be 71,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020. That would power 12 million homes.

Likewise, in the wake of the BP oil spill, the United States is doing... I have no idea.

  • Anne Tobin

    Thanks for posting this! I have been behind this week on reading the blog. Both the BP Disaster AND the Massey Coal Disaster should have pushed us to do something about clean energy from a government perspective like this. It’s very frustrating!!!

  • http://twitter.com/bubblegenius Bubble Genius

    Nothing is happening in the US because even progressives can’t be arsed to weigh in. Your supporters all still have something to say about Dick Cheney, fer chrissake, but here in what is arguably the most weighty post on the blog today, crickets.

    As irritated as I was by that shitheel McHenry’s dissing of Elizabeth Warren, I sure as fuck wish there was half as much activity from all the 501(c)s and the blogs toward that issue and twice as much toward nagging the government about energy. Would that Hamwald used their influence to push for green energy instead of ginning up the Manning thing.

    We can’t rely on the government to do it without pressure from its citizens, and environmental disasters just aren’t interesting enough in the long term for our instant-gratification ADD-addled brains. I want to give you a hug every time you harp on this, because I swear to fucking god, you’re the only one who regularly does.

    • ranger11

      This is definitely an issue that the ‘progressives’ can bring attention to and maybe educate the general public. I really thought something was going to develop after the Gore movie in terms of alternative energies and strategies. I don’t know what happened. Wish I was more optimistic about this stuff. Maybe after the 2012 election… I hope.

    • muselet

      I had a comment all teed up this morning:

      Likewise, in the wake of the BP oil spill, the United States is doing…

      … nothing.

      That seemed obstructively cynical, so I threw it out.

      We don’t take energy issues seriously in the US. I have no idea why. I remember the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. Gasoline prices skyrocketed to well over 50¢/gallon. Many fists were shaken, many rude words spoken. In the end, the only tangible change was CAFE standards, which the car industry—and the public at large—pissed and moaned about for more than a decade. And we went back to building and buying big cars with big engines that went not very far on a gallon of gasoline.

      In 1979, President Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House; in 1986, the Reagan administration removed them. President Carter told the American people that they—we—had to use less energy; candidate Reagan told cheering crowds, “Conservation means you’re too cold in winter and too hot in summer” (I may have that reversed; it’s late and I can’t be bothered to check).

      In a rational world, the US would have learned the lesson of 1973. We don’t live in a rational world.

      RealMurkins like big-ass trucks and Rs are more than happy to tell them that all we as a nation have to do is Drill, Baby, Drill! Republicans deride anyone who even mentions energy conservation, alternative energy production or green energy as a pinko socialist unAmerican commie leftist communist terrorist lover. The Democrats are partly to blame, as is the Left, for not pushing back against that, but to what end? RealMurkins like their big-ass trucks and can’t abide the notion of giving them up.

      Our wonderful news media (yes, I know) bears part of the blame, too. Europe is pursuing more aggressive renewable energy goals than is the US; when was the last time you opened your local fishwrap and read that? Here in Southern California, the only time the LA Dog Trainer mentions solar panels is if homeowners are howling that a neighbor’s rooftop panels cause uncomfortable glare.

      We don’t take energy issues seriously in the US. California’s much-vaunted Solar Initiative hit a snag early on when utilities refused to connect rooftop solar panels to electric meters. That intransigence earned the utilities a couple of stories in the Dog Trainer with bugger-all in the way of follow-up.

      Europe gets it. Japan gets it. Australia gets it. The US is oblivious.

      Should we be making more noise about this? Yes, absolutely. Will it make a particle of difference? Probably not. RealMurkins and the Rs they elect will shout down anyone who points to Europe and Japan and Australia and asks, “Why can’t we do that, too?”

      Invisible Pink Unicorn above, the Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf are reported on as novelties, punchlines to unfunny jokes, playthings for the green and sickly, when they are mentioned at all. Rush Limbaugh went out of his way to lie about the Volt on his radio show and the only pushback was on a blog at Motor Trend, which had just named it Car of the Year; the rest of our wonderful news media (yes, yes, I know, I know) reported this as an argument which was amusing, but as meaningless as how many angels can dance on a pinhead.

      I’m the thick end of 600 words into this wall-o’-text and I haven’t even mentioned the oil companies and the millions of dollars they pour into electoral campaigns.

      I agree that we (that odd collective noun that means everything and nothing simultaneously) should push, and push hard, for energy conservation and renewable energy. But did you notice how the Obama administration’s “Cash for Caulkers” program was greeted with hoots of derision? That’s what we’re up against. Easier to bang your head against the wall, and just as effective in the end.

      It’s late, I’m tired, and there’s no way I’m even going to do a cursory edit of this, so I apologize in advance for the cynical-bordering-on-defeatist tone. There are just so many rocks Sisyphus can push up the frakking mountain.


      EDITED to add the obviously-missing word. Now I’m going to bed.