Issues related to climate change will be the most important challenge, not just for my time in Congress, but for the remainder of my career, my life, and that of my children. The reckless exploitation of our natural resources has already led to many environmental catastrophes, including the ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. Understanding and getting right the policies on carbon pollution, energy utilization, and the way we organize our communities and our economy is central to all the other challenges we face.
America is not just addicted to oil as former President Bush famously opined, we are frozen in a lifestyle and economy that is predicated on being able to waste more energy than anyone in the world. "Economic development" and "energy utilization" have created a system dangerously vulnerable to the existing economic and energy patterns (as demonstrated by the response to gasoline prices that exceeded four dollars a gallon and the explosion of the speculative housing and real estate bubble). The system is intertwined, not just with finance, but also to American expectations, lifestyle, and personal investment.
We need to confront global warming from all sectors of our economy from energy production and use to transportation in order to protect our country and protect our children's future.
We must develop renewable energies. Reducing carbon output depends on our ability to move toward the green economy with green energy powering our way. A combination of regulations, tax incentives, investment in research and development will stimulate our economy.
We must reduce our carbon output. Greenhouse gas emissions can be further reduced by promoting livable communities by developing public transportation options and by encouraging responsible urban development. We also need to begin to embrace changes that will eventually allow us to cap our carbon output and encourage further development of alternative resources.
We need alternative incentives. We need adjustments to a lifestyle that is less sprawling and auto dominated, which demands people drive. The simplest, cheapest, most effective way to improve the quality of health for Americans, especially with an obesity epidemic, is to make it safe for children to walk or bike to school, and to make it safe for citizens but to be able to take a five minute walk to a buy a quart of milk without burning a quart of gasoline.
We need to look to aid fragile communities and ecosystems as they are besieged by global warming: As global warming worsens it is important that we deploy resources in order to protect those most at risk from this problem.
We need to continue to support robust public transit project: Cars are some of the worst polluters of greenhouse gas. One of the best ways to help stop global warming and our reliance on foreign oil is to continue to support projects such as streetcars, and more forms of public transit.
We need to continue educating people about the dangers of global warming: Many people continue to ignore or misunderstand the science of global warming. It is important that we work to explain to everyone how important it is to take steps against this crisis before it is too late.
It is impossible to deny the huge costs associated with shipping $1 billion a day overseas, much of which ends up in the hands of people who not only don't like us, but are actually our adversaries. Any long-term realignment of world politics, security and economic stability will require United States spending less on its treasure and its economy and its defense in pursuit of sustaining the current unsustainable practices. Security depends on getting this right.