Fiddling While the World Burns

In the mid-to-late 1970s, the U.S. began grappling with the energy crisis as Jimmy Carter pushed investments in alternative energies and called for conservation, but then Ronald Reagan arrived on the scene. Now, the world faces a much greater crisis, says David William Pear.

By David William Pear

The United States has no limit on the amount of money, treasure, lives and inalienable rights it is willing to sacrifice against terrorism. It justifies it by saying that it is necessary to keep the American people safe. There is little proof that it does.

An American today, and into the far future, is much more likely to suffer from human-caused climate change than any terrorist attack. Even the military knows that climate change is a bigger threat than ISIS. But the response is to put off corrective action to far into the future, minimize a response, debate the seriousness, deny its cause and fiddle while the Earth literally burns.

President Jimmy Carter's solar panels being installed on the White House roof.

President Jimmy Carter’s solar panels being installed on the White House roof.

The U.S.A. has done little but wring its hands about the problems with fossil fuel, even before climate change became a known major threat. For half a century the response to the need for alternative energy has been to procrastinate. President after president have come and gone.

On April 18, 1977, President Jimmy Carter made a formal address to the nation on energy. [Watch it here.] Carter warned of a world that he said was simply running out of oil. The growing demand was more than new supplies from discoveries, he said, adding that imported oil, especially from the Middle East, had proved to be too unreliable.

Earlier, during Richard Nixon’s presidency, the Arab countries had led an oil embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) against the U.S., which had angered the Arab member countries by backing Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Oil prices skyrocket 400 percent because of the oil embargo, with oil jumping from $3 per barrel to $12 per barrel. Shortages of gasoline caused rationing and long lines at the gas pumps. The sudden jump in oil prices led to hyperinflation. The public was outraged and frightened.

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