Even as South Korea is creating jobs in renewable energy, the U.S. is falling behind in green tech. While other countries are encouraging growth in industries like solar power and home efficiency retrofitting, the U.S. is still bickering over whether climate change is for real. So instead of taking advantage of these growing technologies to boost the economy, we're importing them. Smart.
A recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that while the clean technology sector was booming in Europe, Asia and Latin America, its competitive position was “at risk” in the United States because of “uncertainties surrounding key policies and incentives.”
“This is a $5 trillion business and if we fail to be serious players in the new energy economy, the costs will be staggering to this country,” said Hal Harvey, a Stanford engineer who was an adviser to both the Clinton and the first Bush administration and is now chief executive of the San Francisco-based energy and environment nonprofit organization Climate Works.
The Department of Energy did just announce $70 million for geothermal research, so that's nice. But the agency has only a $5 billion research budget, and is only able to fund 5 percent of proposed projects. Meanwhile, other countries not only fund research but offer subsidies for home retrofits and pay homeowners back for generating their own power. As a result, they are totally eating our lunch: Just one of the three top wind companies operating in the U.S. is American — and of the 10 top companies making wind turbine components, only one is domestic.
But, you know, eventually we'll totally hammer out this whole "believe in science or not believe in science" question! We'll just have to finish the discussion while living under the international metaphorical equivalent of a train bridge.