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Joe Richardson, Fargo, Published February 17 2013

Letter: ND uniquely situated to embrace sustainable energy technologies

In November 2012, 200 investment firms, with more than $21 trillion under management, issued warnings on climate change, calling on world governments to act faster to mitigate the risks. Previously, several flag-grade generals and admirals have written and spoken about the military implications of climate change. They have called on us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions lest we pay with treasure and blood for the damage and geo-instability caused by forced population migrations effected by floods and droughts. Our scientific community and that of every scientific academy in the Western world have clearly warned us how greenhouse gas emissions are dangerously destabilizing our climate.

Our politicians have been on a fossil fuel corporate treadmill. They need ever-increasing contributions to run expensive campaigns. They have found it easy to dismiss the science and the warnings of our military and investment management firms in order to pander for corporate money. Ignoring climate change has been a politically winning strategy, while speaking out on the need to act has proved to be a losing proposition. But wait. Perhaps the times are changing.

The president said in his State of the Union speech: “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.” He said this just days before thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C. (Sunday, Feb. 17) for the largest rally on climate change in our history.

The public, in greater numbers, is beginning to demand leadership. A movement is seriously percolating. The day of denial or ducking this issue is quickly coming to an end. The barrage of special interest disinformation campaigns will soon be overwhelmed by a public demand to enact policies that address the proven and dire consequences related to further emissions. Given that, change is in the air.

Perhaps it is time for our North Dakota politicians to feel free enough to openly speak about strategies for leveraging our one-time revenue from our high-carbon resources into sustainable investments for long-term revenue from low-carbon energy and power production. Let’s begin the public discussion over North Dakota’s ability to invest in commercializing the next generation of energy products to meet exploding global demand.

We are uniquely positioned as a sparsely populated, wealthy state. We should invite emerging technologies to our state, incubate them, commercialize them and realize the long-lasting benefits. Let’s create critical mass in one of the largest industrial shifts of our time. It beats hiding just to placate the past.