According to experts, the crisis of global warming is even worse than earlier projections. The future is foreseeable - with even more droughts, floods, severe weather disturbances, loss of drinking water and conflicts over declining natural resources.
At the same time, the situation is far from being hopeless, says Bernie Sanders, US Senator from Vermont.
According to him advances and technological breakthroughs being made in the United States and throughout the world are giving humans the tools to cut carbon emissions dramatically, break the dependency on fossil fuels and move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
According to Sanders, the first vital step is strong legislation that dramatically cuts back on carbon emissions. Sanders and Senator Barbara Boxer introduced The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S309) . The act , if passed promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.
Another step Sanders suggests is that the federal government begins the process of transforming the energy system by investing heavily in energy efficiency and sustainable energy. This way he says the 80 percent carbon reduction level can be achieved while creating millions of high-paying jobs.
"Energy efficiency is the easiest, quickest and least expensive path toward the lowering of carbon emissions. My hometown of Burlington, Vermont, despite strong economic growth, consumes no more electricity today than it did sixteen years ago because of a successful effort to make our homes, offices, schools and other buildings more energy-efficient. In California, which has a growing economy, electric consumption per person has remained steady over the past twenty years because of that state's commitment to energy efficiency", says Sanders.
Sanders quotes several studies which give that retrofitting older buildings and establishing strong efficiency standards for new construction can cut fuel and energy consumption by at least 40 percent. He projects increases in energy saving along with the adoption of new technologies such as LED light bulbs.
This is not all, says Sanders. Transportation is another issue that must be addressed seriously. "It is insane that we are driving cars today that get the same twenty-five miles per gallon that US cars did twenty years ago. If Europe and Japan can engineer their vehicles to average more than forty-four miles per gallon, we can do at least as well. Simply raising fuel-efficiency standards to forty miles per gallon would save roughly the same amount of oil as we import from Saudi Arabia and would dramatically lower carbon emissions. We should also rebuild and expand our decaying rail and subway systems and provide energy-efficient buses in rural America so that travelers have an alternative to the automobile", suggests Sanders.
Sustainable energies like wind, solar and geothermal have tremendous potential and often cost no more than fossil fuels (and, in some cases, even less), says Sanders.
Wind power happens to be the fastest growing source of new energy in the world and in the United States. In Denmark, 20 percent of its electricity is generated from wind. "We should be supporting wind energy not only through the creation of large wind farms in the appropriate areas but through the use of small, inexpensive wind turbines available today that can be used in homes and farms throughout rural America. These small turbines can produce, depending on location, more than half the electricity that an average home consumes while saving consumers money on their electric bills", urges Sanders.
Another source of 'green' energy is solar energy. "Solar energy represents a huge domestic energy resource for the United States, particularly in the Southwest where the deserts have some of the best solar resource levels in the world. For example, an area approximately 12 percent the size of Nevada has the potential to supply all of the electric needs of the United States", gives Sanders.
Sanders warn against a feeling of denial, greed, cynicism or pessimism, as the nation at last confronts global warming.
" It is a time for vision and international leadership. It is a time for transforming our energy system from the polluting and carbon-emitting technologies of the nineteenth century into the unlimited and extraordinary energy possibilities of the twenty-first. When we do that we will not only solve the global warming crisis; we will open up unimaginable opportunities for improving life all over the planet", entreats Senator Sanders.