President Carter installed 32 solar thermal panels on the white house 30 years ago. By 1986 Jimmy Carter had been replaced by Ronald Reagan – and unfortunately his priorities were different. He scrapped the research and development budget for renewables and eliminated any tax breaks that were encouraging deployment of solar or wind turbines.
When the white house had to have its roof fixed, Reagan used this as an excuse to remove the solar panels, despite the fact that they were still working fine.
Unfortunately, this view of renewables as less efficient has kept hold on the republican party ever since. During a debate with Carter, Reagan argued the department of Energy has a multibillion-dollar budget, in excess of $10 billion. It hasn’t produced a quart of oil or a lump of coal or anything else in the line of energy.
This line of argument has stayed in place ever since, among republicans. It was a foolish thing to say then, and all we know about climate change makes it look downright stupid. I know that Reagan is held in high esteem in the USA, and many of his moves may well have been good. This one is not, and to not abandon a position that 30 years ago was foolish, but now is downright stupid should destroy a party like the republicans. The fact that the two party system in the USA continues to have such a hold, means that it probably wont, however America needs to move forwards – without the republicans if that is what’s required.