What Is The Greatest Threat To The US Today? – OpEd


On the evening of October 13, 2015, CNN organized the first debate among the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential candidates in the Las Vegas CNN studio. In the debate, there was an important question that revealed one growing importance in politics: The program moderator, Anderson Cooper, asked the US Democratic Party presidential candidates, “What is the greatest threat to the USA today?”

Hillary Clinton said, “Nuclear armament.” Bernie Sanders, the new entrant to the competition, said, “Global warming is the greatest threat to the United States.”

Bernie Sanders reminds us of the new British Labor Party Chairman, Jeremy Corbyn. He served in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate for many years. He is defined as a “self-proclaimed, social Democrat,” and early polls say that he is the most popular Democrat candidate, following Hillary Clinton. He is a senior, Jewish-American politician. Will rich, American Jews vote for him? It is unlikely.

Ranking global warming as the most important danger for the US was a very remarkable indication to put into the deal. Henceforth, the other candidates will pay more attention to global warming, less burning of fossil fuels, and to the reduction of CO2 emissions. The rise of environmentalist politicians continue. The politicians who pay less attention to or are ignorant to environmental sensitivity decrease their chances to win.

On the other hand, particularly in Europe and the US, there has been no drastic measure taken to reduce carbon emissions, not to mention the Volkswagen scandal regarding excessive emissions. Global warming does not at all concern the people of the United States. The price of gasoline dropped to $1.95 per gallon. 5.6 liter, V-8 motor vehicles are very popular. You cannot find anyone willing to say, “Let us leave our big cars, and let’s take public transportation.”

The realities and needs of the people of Turkey are different. “There are a million issues to improve before tackling carbon emissions,” you might say. The Current Account Deficient is high, there is terror, a fragile economy, market disturbance, difficulty in financing projects, etc. According to world 2010 statistics, the US is still leading the way with 17 tons of annual CO2 emissions per person. The latest Turkish figures were published at 4 to 5 tons per person per year.

However, on every available platform, global warming is entering the agenda. US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other G7 leaders made serious decisions about the prevention of global warming in the latest G7 conference in Germany. In the upcoming G20 leaders’ meeting on 20 November, this issue will certainly be on the agenda again. By reducing the use of fossil fuels, one should talk about price and market deterrence. Either fossil fuels will be subject to import taxes or the existing tax will be increased. Market observers predict the escape from fossil fuels in the near future.

USA, China, India, and South Korea tax the imported coal they receive. They even have increased the existing tax two to three fold. The purpose of the tax on imported coal and fossil fuels is to provide market deterrence, which subsequently makes indigenous and renewable energy sources more attractively priced.

This issue will surely be on the G20 leaders’ meeting agenda in Belek. We, the Turkish team, have to be prepared. G7 partners can make a decision. Countries that cannot decide on their own strategies must adapt to the decisions of others.

Everywhere in the world, all fossil fuel firing thermal power plant investors are placed to avoid the domestic tax on imported coal by lobbying. They try to prevent the tax, but that remains in the past.

In the upcoming December 2015 Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris, each country is expected to commit to reduce the carbon emissions it produces. Each country is making its own preparations in this regard. Certainly, Turkey is also making preparations. We, the people away from politics, do not know what the government and relevant ministries are preparing, but surely there is a plan being made.

There are suggestions from various sectors in this regard. One of the proposals put forward suggests that the tax on imported coal and imported natural gas also apply to the carbon tax in order to collect funds, then to utilize these funds to get power from renewable energy sources, such as the generation of energy from the wind and sun. Thus, we can reach the projected targets for carbon emissions, growth, and development. Utilization of indigenous lignite and more renewable, domestic sources, like wind and solar power, with local engineering are essential to realize more domestic manufacturing.

Investors are to make calculations and market predictions carefully to foresee the future of imported coal and fossil fuels. If they can not foresee the future, they must share the risk with others by hedging to stay safe financially. If the control valve remains at the mercy of foreign countries and if your current account deficit is at an unbearable level, then you should stay away from imported fossil fuels in the future and try to reduce your dependence.

There is no need to invest more in natural gas pipelines; there’s no need for further investments in imported coal. It is all at the investor’s risk. No matter what investors do, do as you wish, but please keep us out of this, and do not ask the public authorities to save you by paying for your poor decisions.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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