THE RISING TIDES
There's an old saying -- "The rising tide lifts all boats." It usually refers to the fact that when the economy is good everybody benefits becaise all the boats are rising at the same time. The rising tide also makes our voyages safer. High water means less chance of hitting a submerged reef or rock and sinking. It gives us more "wiggle room" and options. The rising tide doesn't mean that bad things won't happen, it means that when they do we have a better chance of surviving and overcoming because of our extra safety margin.
The rising tide also makes people, in general, more positive, sociable and outgoing. This in turn makes cooperative ventures, particularly those designed to make civic life more citizen-centered and productive, more likely to be successful.
An outstanding example of this phenomenon is the renewable energy growth that is happening here in the US and worldwide. Not too long ago the idea that utility-scale electricity could be generated by renewable sources was laughable. The idea that solar photovoltaics or wind turbines could power large numbers of American homes was beyond the pale. The idea that we could accomplish these feats globally was just a wide-awake dream. All of this is false. Last year (2016), 15% of US utility-scale electricity production came from renewable sources. According to the June 2017 Issue of Forbes Magazine, an article entitled
"Wind and Solar Hit a New Record in the U.S. And There's No Slowing Them Down" reports that "Wind and solar power continue to hit new milestones for electricity generation and are expected to continue their dramatic growth in the coming decades…"
Even more compelling news is now coming from the State of California. A legitimate contender for the leadership of the renewable revolution, California recently reported that it is "…generating so much solar energy, it's paying other states to take it." As reported in the website Mother Nature Network "Since 2010, solar production in California from utilities has risen from a scant .05 percent in 2010 to over 10 percent today. Combined with a dramatic rise in rooftop installations on homes and business across the state, amounting to over 5 GW, and you have a state that contains half the nation's solar-generating capacity."
However, the flip side is that rising tides are not always positive. Right now, here in the US and around the world, there are two rising tides happening. One is the rising tide that propels economic growth and renewable energy. The other rising tide, is one with a distinctictly different character. This is the movement which has been adopted and enhanced by the current political administration in the US. We've all seen the daily tweets and other questionable activities by our new President. Americans, and others all around the world, are reacting to the avalanche of negative actions and pronouncements with a rising tide of indignation, disgust and fear.
For those of us that feel, and exhibit, a commitment to renewable energy and positive environmentalism this rising tide represents a dark and negative trend. in general, Much of this tide is focused on negative interpretations of environmental issues and concerns. Almost every action by the Trump administration, from withdrawing from the Paris Accord. reversing President Obama's environmental initiatives and the ripping apart of the US Environmental Protection Agency, is legitimately viewed as an attack on our common problems. The attack has been relentless, almost entirely negative and promises to continue that way for at least long as the current administration remains in power.
In short, our leaders have decided to roll back the clock on the environmental gains we have made over the past several decades. This means we must continue and accelerate our activities that have helped make our environmental successes. Every day we get closer to an environmental "tipping point" which will have perhaps a profound and dangerous impact on our species and our ability to maintain our lives on this planet.
WHAT WE CAN DO
Perhaps the best news about our positive rising tide is that it is primarily a product of citizens, scientists, students, industry leaders and educators. It is the result of a growing international movement which has energized people all over the globe in common cause.
We can take part in this effort by acting alone and writing letters and emails, submitting op-ed pieces to our local newspapers and donating to fund-raising campaigns. We can lobby our legislators and local power companies to accelerate and facilitate industrial and individual scale renewable energy projects. While it is important that our leaders - local, national and global - work towards a positive outcome, it is even more important that this campaign spreads through the grass roots. For a comprehensive list of ways to get involved check out this Google search on "citizen-based renewable energy advocacy programs."
There is no doubt that keeping up with environmental news can be a daunting and depressing exercise. It is important that we continue to educate ourselves, and others, about the rising tide that is powering a social/environmental/economic sea change. This is the most important and powerful thing we can do to assure that the tide continues to rise and to carry all of us with it.