Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.
Franklin, at the height of the French Revolution, wrote the introductory sentence to this article in a letter to his friend and fellow scientist Jean-Baptiste Leroy. Franklin was worried about Leroy's well-being in the face of the populist revolt:
Are you still living? Or has the mob of Paris mistaken the head of a monopolizer of knowledge, for a monopolizer of corn, and paraded it about the streets upon a pole.
Mr. Franklin would be upset to know that in the Age of Trump the durability of the Constitution is as threatened as the future of federal clean energy and climate defense policies and the role of scientists in their development. I will, however, leave the matter of the Constitution for another day and focus instead on renewable energy tax credits.
To paraphrase Franklin nothing is certain in Capital City except death, taxes and the debate over renewable energy investment and production tax credits.
Readers who thought the compromise reached by the Congress in 2015 had ended the debate about the future of investment (ITC) and production tax credits (PTC) for wind, solar and other clean energy technologies should now be having second thoughts. The 2015 agreement (the PATH Act) was intended to provide tax certainty for both credit categories. It is no longer certain it is accomplishing the objective.
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Are these the end days of life on Earth as we have come to know them and wish to envision them for future generations? A time of great earthquakes, warming and rising oceans, famines and floods. When torrential winds and water rain down upon us as storms named Maria and Utor? When nations will soon rise against nation not out of hate but out of hunger?
Within recent weeks several reports have been released each painting a picture of a time not too distant when the worst becomes commonplace. The good news is these are warnings not predictions of inevitability.
Over 15,000 scientists from around the world published A Second Notice to humanity of the danger of continuing to live like there is no tomorrow. The first, signed by just 1700 scientists, was posted 25 years ago.
According to Henry Kendall, a particle physicist and a co-founder of the Union of Concerned Scientists:
If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.
Joel B. Stronberg
Joel Stronberg, MA, JD., of The JBS Group is a veteran clean energy policy analyst with over 30 years’ experience, based in Washington, DC.