DR. DICKSON DESPOMMIER spent thirty-eight years as a professor of microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia, where he won the Best Teacher award six times. In 2003, he was awarded the American Medical Student Association Golden Apple Award for teaching. He has addressed audiences at leading universities including Harvard and MIT, and he has also been invited to speak at the United Nations. In addition, he has been asked by governments of China, India, Mexico, Jordan, Brazil, Canada, and Korea to work on environmental problems. Despommier lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Fossil Fuel Subsidies (Cool Graphic)
10/26/2010 2:18:12 PM

Ben Jervey over at GOOD shared a great graphic done by One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) showing the paltry amount of solar subsidies in the US compared to those received by the dirty darling of our government, fossil fuels. 

1BOG is doing some amazing things with solar right now.  But the subsidy landscape is extremely unfavorable to renewables.  I'll hold back on my thoughts about subsidies in general, but I think it's pretty clear that this game isn't even close to fair right now, so it would be unrealistic to expect that solar will dominate like so many people (including me) think it should.  Maybe someday it will, but not soon.  If investor Jim Chanos is right, and oil producing companies are secretly running low on oil, then maybe that day is nearer than I expect.  But I mean, that day is bound to come eventually, right?  And is it really that hard to see that if governments continue to subsidize a non-renewable resource, then when that day comes, and we've exhausted that resource, we'll then need an alternative source capable of producing energy at the same level we were used to before?  And that if we keep playing our hand this way, we're setting ourselves up for a crisis, completely avoidable if we'd only invest (subsidize) as much in "energies of the future" as we do in "energies of the 18th Century"?  Seems like a fairly straightforward chain of events to me. 

Anyway, this grphic from 1BOG should be very eye-opening for those who think solar is "too expensive."  It's really a matter of Americans and the world not understanding the true cost of fossil fuels.  We don't realize, for example, that the price at the pump is only a fraction of oil's true cost.  We pay extra through taxes that go straight to oil companies under the term "subsidies."  Politicians, for all the "talk" they sell us, seem to be doing much less green "walking."  I hope we, the people, make it clear to them that it's in each one of their best interest to start walking. 

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