I filed my taxes yesterday. Thanks to the White House’s Federal Taxpayer Receipt page, I could see just where that money was going. Unfortunately, seeing where my money goes isn’t very inspiring. Even before entering your tax numbers, you can see the percentage breakdown:
As you can see, the greatest percentage goes to national defense, accounting for practically 1/4 of our taxes. A large portion of that ‘defense budget’, from what I’ve gleaned, is actually for wars and a military presence related to our country’s addiction to oil. Meanwhile, probably the top threats to human civilization (including U.S. civilization) today and in the foreseeable future — global warming, water insecurity, and food insecurity — are all but ignored. ‘Natural Resources, Energy, and Environment’ (which would also include dirty energy, of course) get more than a dozen times less funding, less of our tax money, than ‘National Defense’.
Disheartening? Yes, I think so.
We are facing a societal existential threat, and instead of addressing that with full force — wiping out the problem before it wipes us out — we are unwilling to bump up that 2% just a tiny little percent. Meanwhile, we get into trade wars with China for its clean energy subsidies.
Instead of saying, ‘hey, we should probably do something significant to make sure our climate stays within human livability, we have one side of the political spectrum making one solar company failure into a supposed scandal (ignoring the thousands of successful solar power companies that are providing the U.S. with over 100,000 jobs). We have those same folks turning an innovative car, winner of the 2012 European Car of the Year Award, into a political punching bag over what is essentially not even worthy evening news.
These analogies have been used many times, but I think they are worth repeating:
If a giant asteroid were flying towards Earth, we would do everything in our power to stop, avert, or destroy it.
If a powerful foreign army were threatening to attack us, destroy our cities (as natural disasters will), disrupt our water supply (as we’re already seeing happen in large portions of the U.S.), disrupt our food supply, and so on, we would pump some serious money into defending ourselves (and probably more).
Why are we so slow to address the similar threat of global warming and its resulting water, food, economic, and national security ramifications?
To wrap up, I’ll just drop this classic cartoon here:
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.