Western slope Republicans constantly point to a “war on coal” or a “war” on drilling and fracking as the cause of massive job loss. They scapegoat western slope residents who are concerned about degradation of the environment and global climate change, while clinging to tired, predictable responses like boosting extractive energy industries that are technologically on the way out.
Republicans’ hand-wringing and finger-pointing reveals their narrow view of what is happening in our world.
Blaming Obama and environmentalists for job loss is like looking at the Grand Canyon through a toilet paper tube and saying you know everything about what’s there.
The loss of large numbers of jobs in many long-existing industries are inevitable.
Because of advances in technology, not because of the attitudes or activism of some Americans.
These changes aren’t anyone’s fault. Like it or not, the changes result from progress.
Time marches on, and manufacturing, construction, energy generation, appliances, cars and everything else inevitably gets more efficient over time. The evolution of technology is not only a continual process, but a fact of life — one that that Republicans on the western slope seem to loathe to acknowledge, let alone react to in a productive manner.
They would rather take a microscopic viewpoint and blame someone, usually Obama.
News Flash for Republicans: Society Will Always Move Towards Technologies that are Cheaper and More Efficient
Disruptions in older technologies are inevitable. It’s part of progress.
Buggy whip manufacturers were put out of business when cars were mass produced. Switchboard operators disappeared after telephone technology advanced enough to allow people to dial numbers themselves. Travel agents started disappearing after people started booking their own trips online, accounting software is replacing auditing jobs, and so it goes.
Soon electric vehicles (EVs) will lead to a major disruption in the vehicle manufacturing and fossil fuel industries.
Last year, sales of electric vehicles increased by 60 percent globally. Bloomberg predicts that by 2040, long-range electric cars will cost around $22,000 in today’s dollars. They’ll be cheaper to buy, cost less to operate and cleaner to run than conventional cars. They will negate the need for emissions testing, further hastening the demise of the fossil fuel car industry and its associated jobs. But jobs making electric vehicles will take their place, as will jobs manufacturing batteries and other equipment needed to turn sun and wind resources into energy and store it.
The energy storage industry will drive much of the future. Batteries are constantly getting cheaper and more efficient. They now charge faster, last longer and cost less than ever before. Tesla’s massive Gigafactory, a state-of-the-art battery manufacturing plant just outside of Sparks, Nevada, is scheduled to come online in 2017, and promises to produce more batteries than were produced in the entire world in 2013. Tesla’s goal is to drive down the cost of battery packs for vehicles by 30 percent.
Tesla is now also selling home battery banks called “Powerwalls” that store energy generated by solar panels for use at night. The Powerwall negates the need for grid power as more people tap into free, clean renewable energy from the sun. Home power storage units like this will eliminate the need for power poles, power lines, and jobs in the existing energy industry.
Self-driving vehicles, just starting to come online now, will eliminate hundreds of thousands of taxi, delivery and truck driver jobs. Self-driving trucks are already a reality, and autonomous semi trucks are already licensed to use public roads.
The World Economic Forum, a group that consists of over 2,500 leaders from business, government and civil society, estimates conservatively that advances in robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, biotech and artificial intelligence will lead to the loss of five million jobs by 2020. They further estimate that around 65 percent of children starting primary school today will work in jobs that don’t even exist today.
So what are we doing to address this? Promoting more drilling, fracking oil shale extraction, and blaming Obama for a supposed “war on coal”? How productive is this approach?
This approach is futile because it misses the big picture. It is irrelevant to the direction in which the world is headed.
Why can’t the western slope’s elected officials and business organizations like the Chamber of Commerce see this reality?
Republicans Just Don’t Get It
It makes perfect sense that clean, renewable energy sources like wind and sun would eventualy supplant fossil fuels as prime energy sources. Unlike fossil fuels, they are free, unlimited and easy-to-get resources that cost less to harness and do not damage our environment. The world is heading in this direction for a host of reasons: simplicity, affordability, ease, cleanliness and safety, to name a few.
In the mean time, the western slope’s long-time Republican political leaders are completely missing the boat on this. They just can not seem to wrap their heads around it. They seem to be dogged about living in the past, without even considering what’s coming down the pike in the future.
Our House Representative, Scott Tipton, continues to take an astoundingly narrow, unproductive view and simply blames President Obama for a lagging coal industry. Colorado State Senator Ray Scott keeps harping on a supposed “war on coal.” Such whining is like putting a finger in a leaky dike while the whole dam is about the give way. Mesa County Commissioners Scott McInnis, John Justman and Rose Pugliese keep embracing hazardous, last-century industries that have long been contributing to the ruination of the county, like the Deer Creek frackwater disposal facility. The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce keeps cheerleading for doomed, embattled industries like methane drilling and oil shale mining. And Commissioner Rose Pugliese’s answer is to simply stop teaching American kids about climate science altogether, so they can ignore all the reasons why technological advances are moving society towards cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy sources.
Stop the Blaming and Think for a Change
No progress will be made towards ameliorating the coming massive disruptions in jobs by blaming, scapegoating Obama, environmentalists and the federal government. No progress can be made by trying, over and over, to breathe more life into last-century industries. Western slope Republicans just can’t seem to grasp the bigger picture, let alone start addressing the coming disruptions in any serious way. They never introduce any forward-thinking ideas that can help prepare our area for the future in any substantial way.
These old attitudes aren’t just a petty and unproductive. They are dangerous to our area. They reflect current elected officials’ frightfully narrow vision, show how they are ignoring the big picture of how technological advances will affect the job market in our area, and how we should be preparing for it.
We need new elected officials who won’t keep fighting to go backwards and keep clinging to the past because of how well it once worked. We need public representatives who understand the 1950s are not coming back. We need elected officials who can absorb current, factual information, apply it to our area, and who can bring new ideas to the table about how to address disruptions in the job market that are likely to occur due to technological advances. We need people who are willing and capable of planning for the future.
The current crop of elected leaders simply cannot fill the bill.
It’s time for real political change in our area, if Mesa County citizens want to survive and thrive in the future. The same old folks just aren’t cutting it. #grandchange