Editorial: Long-term benefit for clean energy investment cannot be overlooked

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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This week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance released a study noting global clean energy investment diminished for a second straight year after investments reached $281 billion in 2012. Worldwide investment in wind power, solar power, energy efficiency and electric cars dropped 20 percent compared to the same period in 2012, now down to $45.9 billion in 2013 at the end of the third quarter , according to the report.

“The latest setback reflects policy uncertainty in Europe, the lure of cheap gas in the United States, a leveling-off in wind and solar investment in China,” said Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Cheap gas in the United States seems to be the most prevalent of issues, with areas across the nation — including southwestern Pennsylvania — conducting widespread fracking initiatives for natural gas consumption.

This move for finding cheap natural gas poses an interesting dichotomy for the city of Pittsburgh. While the city moves further away from an economy fueled by steel and coal, the surrounding region has found opportunities in exploiting natural-gas-rich lands.

For the foreseeable future, the incentive to sell lands to fracking entities will produce profits for landowners. The consequences of those actions, in terms of our society’s future environmental condition, paint a dismal picture for generations to come.

Natural gas, like other nonrenewable resources, is finite. While investment in natural gas is on the rise — with the United States finding ways to make its own gas cheap to afford — renewable energy provides high returns on investments and has the ability to sustain global energy consumption for the future.

The United Nations’ recent findings of climate change being at the forefront of the global issues of tomorrow should be warning enough to put aside the use of nonrenewable resources at every potential opportunity. At the International Development Finance Club’s meeting this week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for investments in technologies and policies that can help combat climate change.

“With enlightened action, we can create jobs, improve public health and protect the environment,” he said.

For the ultimate incentive to opt out of the usage of natural gas, landowners looking to make a lucrative short-term profit should weigh whether prosperity enjoyed now is more important than prosperity for future generations.

Overall, stepping away from hydraulic fracking and the pursuance of nonrenewable resources will ensure cleaner waterways, less pollution, healthier citizens and future success for the United States. The investment in clean energy cannot continue to decrease: The world depends on it for tomorrow.

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