I am the co-author of “They Made America From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovators” and a contributor to the WGBH Public Television series of the same name.
The men and women who made America an economic powerhouse consistently looked to the future and innovated. What united them was creative imagination and a deep belief in science and technology.
None of them, if living today, would argue to keep coal mines open or support polluting power plants such as CPV in Middletown or Danskammer in Newburgh. They wouldn’t pretend that fossil gas (“natural”) was a bridge fuel.
Faced with climate change, they would invent, start new industries with good jobs and make certain America led in renewable energy. They would know the future depended on it.
One of the best stories in the book is, of course, the rise of Henry Ford, son of an Irish immigrant who fled Ireland during the potato famine in 1847. His Model T was the first car to roll down an assembly line.
Radically, he paid his workers enough so that they could purchase the car they manufactured and eventually, every other car on the streets of America were Ford Model T’s.
One Fordism we should remember as we face a challenging future is this: Businessmen go down with their businesses because they like the old way so well they cannot bring themselves to change. One sees them all about – men who do not know that yesterday is past, and who woke up this morning with their last year’s ideas.
Let’s be brave and bold as we face the future. We know we can no longer keep burning fossil fuels and have a healthy or stable environment. Contact elected officials at local, state and federal levels.
My next car is going to be all electric.
And, I am not scared.