In 1979, President Jimmy Carter became the first president to install solar panels on the White House. At the time, the nation was facing an impending oil crisis from the Arab Oil Embargo and Carter was cementing his presidential legacy as the one president, besides Teddy Roosevelt, to give a damn about the environment. Not only did he add 32 solar panels to the White House (only later to be taken down by Ronald Reagan...), but President Carter was also responsible for expanding the national parks system into Alaska, establishing a national energy policy, creating the Department of Energy, and for telling Americans to stop turning up the heat in the winter and put on a damn sweater or something.
Jimmy Carter was an environmental activist as president, and he still is today.
In speaking at the American Renewable Energy Day Summit in Aspen, Colorado, Carter expressed his views and opinions on the current state of energy and the environment in the United States.
(President Jimmy) Carter: 'Nutcases' are stopping climate action - (he's right about that!) - http://t.co/C6MUsFyMXG
— sevenbowie (@sevenbowie) August 13, 2014
Carter began by chastising the United States for its failure to keep up with other countries in terms of providing energy through renewable resources. Whereas Canada provides approximately 64 percent of its energy through renewables, "The United States is right at the bottom, with only 10 percent of our energy coming from renewable sources. So we still have a tremendous opportunity to do what we haven't done."
While the United States ranks at the bottom of the list, Carter does not blame the president, who he feels is doing his job but is constantly limited by Congress's petty grudges. Instead, Carter blames the nutcase climate change deniers:
I would say the biggest handicap we have right now are some nutcases in our country that don’t believe in global warming. I think they are going to change their position because of pressure from individuals, because the evidence of the ravages of global warming are already there.
However bad the current status of the United States is, though, it isn't doomed. Carter stated that "we [the United States] need something like a carbon tax, which is a reasonable approach.” Due to Congressional blockage, however, Carter believes that there may be a better solution:
I don’t look at the present hold-up concerning changing to renewable energy to be an insoluble problem. I have always felt that the best key to get international support, in this case global warming, is for the United States and China to agree on anything. I think we are going to begin to realize that a superpower is not just who dominates economics and military, but I would say that one of the characteristics of a superpower is to take the leadership or make a pledge to the rest of the world to [address] climate change.
With the leaders of the United States currently being obsessed with conflicts in foreign countries and international concerns, former President Carter's approach may be longer in the making than he or any other environmentalist could care for.
Image via Wikimedia Commons