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Van Jones on Government’s Role in the Green Economy

 

Van Jones: Well, the good thing is that the clean energy revolution will be mostly led by private capital even in the meltdown that we’re seeing right now.  The one place that’s still strong were venture capitals at least is still looking to make big place, the clean energy sector, the handwritings on the wall for the carbon based, oil based, coal based energy, outmoded 8-track tape kind of technologies, we will now going to move to the MP3, solar and wind, clean energy grid technology, so that’s still very strong.   The private sector will lead, but the private sector can only do a good job according to the rules, the government says.  I’m all for markets, but markets work according to rules and the rules are set by the government.  Right now, the rules are wacky.  If you are a polluter, you can dump all the carbon in the world you want you for free in the air and you pay zero for doing that.  It’s going to cost us the whole planet but it’s free to you.  That’s the biggest market failure in the history of capitalism.  That’s got to be corrected.  Well, you corrected by either having a cap and trade system.  We would say cap collect and invest system, so the money you get from people who buy the right to put up carbon, you reinvest in economy or [you] carbon taxes, but you’ve got to get to [seek] the price signals going, so that it’s suddenly cheaper to be clean and more expensive to be dirty.  Right now, it’s cheap to do dirty energy and it’s expensive to do clean energy in part because the price signals are wrong.  So, the government, the most important thing the government can do is get the price signals right to get a carbon deal done that put a price on carbon, that force the polluters to pay.  So, people will very, and I guarantee you very quickly, the energy sector in our country, the minute that that deal goes through, they’re going to come out with whole hat, magic hat full of technologies that are ready to go the minute they know they can’t go on the old way, but we’ve got to get the price signals right.

Question: What is preventing lawmakers from making these changes?

Van Jones:    Well, you know, there are objective and subjective hurdles.  Objectively, the polluters spend an awful lot of money engaging what’s practically legalized bribery of the entire political system.  Do we have a military petroleum complex that runs this country, you know, like all the Texas, the Pentagon access runs right through the [bible] about where I grew up, where our family still lives.  They, up until now, have run the country.  I would say into a ditch, and as a result, we have this incredible addiction to oil overseas as well as homegrown oil, but we spend a tremendous amount of our Pentagon dollars defending and protecting and policing oil supply lines.  Why?  So, they can then spend billions more buying the stuff.  Well, I would say, you know, a smart thing to do will be to take 10% of the Pentagon budget and use it to retrofit, re-power, reboot America clean and green so that we don’t have to have military bases all around the world and guard sea lines all around the world.  That is the way forward for the US economy.  The faster we can transition to a clean and green set of homegrown solutions for energy, the quicker we can get energy prices down and start growing the economy again.

Van Jones is all for markets, but the government must make the rules.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Why is everyone so selfish? Science explains

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.

Credit: Adobe Stock, Olivier Le Moal.
Personal Growth
  • Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
  • New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
  • Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
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How Hemingway felt about fatherhood

Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.

Ernest Hemingway Holding His Son 1927 (Wikimedia Commons)
Culture & Religion

Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?

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How DNA revealed the woolly mammoth's fate – and what it teaches us today

Scientists uncovered the secrets of what drove some of the world's last remaining woolly mammoths to extinction.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Surprising Science

Every summer, children on the Alaskan island of St Paul cool down in Lake Hill, a crater lake in an extinct volcano – unaware of the mysteries that lie beneath.

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The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

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  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
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