On Sunday, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich released a video of himself talking about energy policy. Clocking in at 28 minutes and 59 seconds, I can tell you that the video lasts about 28 minutes and 56 seconds too long. That’s because the entire message can be summed up in just three words:
“Drill, baby, drill.”
I suppose Newt’s not known for being concise. Instead, Newt spent nearly 30 minutes detailing why America needs ever more oil, ever more gas, and ever more drilling. But, Newt willfully ignores the most important piece of the energy puzzle: climate change.
As one of my friends put it, “Newt sounds like a drunken sailor who cannot pass up one more slug after last call. Drilling-here and drilling-there will only perpetuate our oil addiction and delay our transition to a green and prosperous economy fueled by renewable sources of energy. And no café standards? What does he drive -– a model T? America has seen his backward vision for America and we rejected it two decades ago.”
Newt wraps up his pro-drilling lecture by saying, “And I think with that energy future, we’re going to have a better quality of life, a better economy, better national security, and take a big step toward balancing the federal budget.”
I share those goals. But, climate change threatens those objectives. Quality of life will be threatened by risk of illness and death from extreme heat. By 2100, just a handful of global warming impacts could cost the U.S. economy $1.9 trillion annually. The Pentagon knows that climate change is a threat multiplier that will harm our national security and contribute to instability across the globe.
We can aim to have it all, but not without addressing climate change.
Newt and I do agree on another thing. Throughout his feature film, Newt alludes to American innovation, science and technology as the tools to get to a dramatically different energy future. He’s right. But we need to apply that innovation and entrepreneurship to developing and scaling new clean energy technologies, not just to digging deeper for dead dinosaurs.
So, save yourself 30 minutes. Don’t watch the video. Instead, spend those 30 minutes soaking up the beautiful and unusually warm winter weather we’re experiencing. And contemplate the less fun consequences of the unchecked warming that “drill, baby, drill” will bring.