By Dan Shapley
Our Great Challenge
Today, among scientists, there is no longer any real debate over whether humans are making the planet hotter - we already have, and the impact is already making itself felt in violently shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels and water temperatures, agricultural failure and decreasing biodiversity. The prognosis is bleak, but it does not have to be. We are at a point at which the future is determined by the choices we make and the action we take. We can reduce the threat of global warming and preserve our tomorrows if we stop putting off until tomorrow what we know we can, and should, do today. We can reduce the threat if, as Americans, we take action together. Together, we can build a cleaner, more prosperous, and more secure country. To get there, we have to meet three great goals: 1. Halting global warming by adopting science-based caps on carbon emissions. 2. Building a new energy economy and creating a million new jobs. 3. Eliminating the need to produce more electricity by getting more out of the power we already use. For too long, our leaders in Washington have turned a blind eye to problems when the solutions were right in front of our faces. We know that we cannot stop short of what the best climate science tells us is necessary: capping global warming pollutants starting in 2010, reducing pollution by 15 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Once we've made that commitment, we will be in a position to lead the world toward a new global climate change treaty. We will work our willing partners, like the countries of Europe - and we will call upon developing nations to do their part. We must also get serious about developing more efficient and cleaner energy technology. That means putting the resources necessary into financing research in energy efficient and clean energy technology -- and to accelerate the marketing of the results. Finally, I believe that energy efficiency should be the first, not the last resort, for meeting our energy needs. Americans have always known how to make necessary sacrifices in times of need, and now is no exception. The problem is, they don't know what they can do to help save energy . I believe if we give them the information and tools they need, they will rise to the challenge. None of this will happen unless we demand it. The oil companies won't do it. The utilities won't do it. The mining companies won't do it. Our generation must do it - we can't wait for someone else to take responsibility. Our generation must be the one that says 'yes' to alternative, renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. Our generation must be the one that accepts responsibility for conserving natural resources -- and both demands and develops the tool to do it. Our generation must be the one that says, 'we must halt global warming.' If we don't act now, if we don't seize this moment, it will be too late. It is time for us to rise to the challenge of our lifetimes. It is time for all of us to prove that patriotism is about more than supporting a war; it is about supporting the future. Will we lead the world on this great challenge? Will we blaze the trail to this bold new frontier of energy opportunity? I believe we will. The American people have changed the world before and we can do it again. The John Edwards campaign is based in Chapel Hill, NC and is proud to be the only carbon neutral presidential campaign. You can take steps towards reducing your own carbon footprint, visit www.reduceyourcarbon.com. For more information, about the Edwards plan for a new energy economy, check out www.johnedwards.com.