Opinion – Career conservative says the right should embrace renewable energy
America is divided on several issues heading into the presidential election, and climate change is certainly one of the most polarizing.
A Pew Research Center survey shows most Americans think the federal government isn’t doing enough to combat climate change, and that a vast majority of Democrats think the U.S. should prioritize alternative energy development over expanding fossil fuels. But about half of conservative Republicans, who represent that party’s majority, advocate increasing the production of fossil fuels oil, coal and natural gas.
Steve Melink, author of “Fusion Capitalism: A Clean Energy Vision For Conservatives,” is a lifelong conservative who says that the science and urgency of climate change calls for resistant Republicans to rethink their position.
“The reality is that climate change is not only happening and being caused by humans burning fossil fuels, but that it is a far greater existential threat than the coronavirus,” Melink said. “We are just seeing the early signs of it with the increased droughts and
wildfires on the West Coast and storms and hurricanes along the East Coast. How much damage to our economy, security, health and environment are we willing to
sustain before we decide to finally take out an insurance policy and invest in the solution?
“The longer we wait, the worse it will get. The good news is a clean energy economy will mitigate these costs and risks and make us safer, healthier, and more prosperous.”
Melink suggests steps the U.S. can take toward clean energy solutions.
On the national level
Rejoin the Paris Agreement
“This would put the U.S. back in its rightful leadership role with the almost 200 nations still committed to this treaty for the purpose of mitigating the effects of climate change,” Melink said. “The U.S. is the world’s biggest economy and one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Before withdrawing from the agreement, we set a good example by cutting our emissions while still growing the economy.”
Put a price on carbon
“The government should immediately eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and over five years eliminate subsidies to the clean energy industry,” Melink said. “Creating a level playing field will achieve most of the desired results, and it will put a price on carbon commensurate with its societal costs and make it tax-revenue neutral. Then let free markets do their magic.”
Set audacious clean energy goals
“By 2030, we should eliminate the use of oil and natural gas by electrifying the building and transportation sectors,” Melink said. “Existing technologies can get us there. We should also set a goal of achieving 80 percent renewable energy across our economy by 2040. This will require distributed and grid-level battery storage for critical infrastructure, and smart homes, buildings and grids so that we have reliable power.”
In homes and businesses
Subscribe to the green energy option with your electric utility
“Do this if you are not in the position to install solar panels on your home or business rooftop,” Melink said. “This will require your utility to purchase clean energy from a solar or wind farm for you.”
Buy an electric vehicle
“Gain the benefits of a smoother ride, faster acceleration, lower energy costs, and less maintenance,” Melink said.
Phase out your natural gas usage
“This can be done with heat pump technology,” Melink said. “For example, the next time you need a water heater, buy a heat pump hot water heater. And the next time you need a furnace, buy a heat pump.”
“Embracing a clean energy future is completely aligned with American and conservative values and principles,” Melink said. “We are uniquely capable as a creative and innovative society to unleash new technologies and put free markets to work to solve the climate problem.”
About Steve Melink
Steve Melink (melinkcorp.com) is the ForbesBooks author of “Fusion Capitalism: A Clean Energy Vision For Conservatives,” and founder/CEO of Melink Corporation, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company considered a pioneer in renewable energy solutions for the commercial building industry. Melink’s company has worked with retail, restaurants, hotels chains, hospitals, nursing homes, universities and supermarkets. Melink is a national speaker on sustainability, clean energy and zero-energy buildings, and he has consulted with federal and state legislators. He earned a BS in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Duke University.