America No Longer a Technological Innovator

George Monbiot looks at what US secretary of energy Steven Chu would describe as amazing American environmental innovations and points out that Europe is decades ahead when it comes to energy saving technology :

Professor Chu went on to explain two amazing new discoveries: a

camera which can see how much heat is leaking from your home and a

meter which allows you to audit your own energy use. Perhaps thermal imaging cameras

and energy monitors seem new and exciting in the US, but on this side

of the Atlantic, though their full potential is still a long way from

being realised, they’ve been familiar for more than a decade.

He

thrilled us with another US innovation, a technology called pumped

storage: water can be pumped up a hill when electricity is cheap and

released when it’s expensive. The UK started building its first pumped

storage plant, Dinorwig, in 1974. Then he told us about a radical

system for heating buildings by extracting heat from water: this must

have been the one that the Royal Festival Hall used in 1951.

The United State’s colossal failure to catch up to the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to environmental technology (just look at gas mileage between U.S, European and Japanese cars) is a clear failure of neoliberalism. Operating under the doctrine that the government must never inject itself into the market, U.S companies have never been forced to innovate and are now literally decades behind their counterparts around the world.

The free market hysteria and irrational hatred of government is still very much alive in the States, and as long as the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins continue to promote it and get in the way of real reform, there is little chance the U.S can catch up.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.