Solving Global Warming, Defense Spending, and National Debt Problems in 800 Words or Less

Vern Scott
5 min readMay 21, 2023

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My editor is after me to make my pieces fit neat newspaper opinion spaces, so here goes…

Can we curb global warming without bankrupting our Nation?

My editor has been after me to contain my thoughts within the 800 word limit, but in my defense, I’m often carrying around big thoughts that don’t conclude themselves easily. So in a personal challenge and act of defiance, I will try to solve three of the biggest world’s problems, Climate Change, National Deficit, Defense Spending within my word limit.

I love the budget balancing games on the internet. I am using information from one called “Debt Fixer” (which has a laudable goal of reducing national debt to 50% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 2050…it is currently on track to hit 180% by then, yikes!). I quickly notice that much of national deficit reduction goes through defense spending, so I have a quick “2 for 1” here. I am also loading info from “2050 Energy Calculator”, a simple game made for the UK to reduce 2050 greenhouse gas levels to 80% of 1990 levels.

I need a few premises to play these games. First I will use a simple defense premise, that if we are annihilated by nukes, nothing else matters (a bizarre solution, actually). Second, I will seek to end small “silly” wars like Iraq, and allow only one big war between now and 2050. This would be a nice fit for a “balanced budget amendment” that allowed cost overruns only in times of emergency. I will assume also that rogue countries’ missile systems are getting very dangerous, making ships vulnerable and missile defense, subs, and jets more important. Further, I will assume that global warming is a 2nd budget busting emergency, and linked to cleaner/more efficient transportation and energy.

So on the defense front, I have ended small “wars”, modernized, cut personnel and veteran’s benefits, and scaled expenditures back to 2017 levels…damn! I am only at 150% now, which shows how difficult this will be. I didn’t check “scale back new weapons systems” because I have a hunch we need a “star wars” level missile defense thing. OK, now onto Education, Infrastructure, Research…I made some meat-ax cuts, but the softy in me allowed for free junior college and infrastructure repair (necessary to implement electric cars, trains, hydrogen fueled planes?)…double damn! I’m still at 150%!!

Wind, solar, biomass are great, but ultimately not the entire solution?

Now, thinking that I need to regroup and learn more about what global warming entails, I will put the deficit aside and see how the UK will address climate. Hey! I’m on the “Demand” side, and finding it rather easy to go “all in” on the recommendations, as they don’t seem to be that expensive or a big change from existing trends. All electric travel and heating by 2050-Yes! All fuel cell, no battery-Yes! Electrification/hybridization of ships, freight, air-Yes! 60d F avg room temp? Brrr! Not gonna do it! All LED lighting-Yes! I’m already at 80% reduction and I’m barely trying here! Best thing, my ½ trillion infrastructure dollars are helping pay for transit electrification while most of the others are simply industry and consumer driven! Woohoo! Now I’m on the “Supply” side and going half in on nuclear upgrades and carbon capture (tricky, short term solutions?) and all-in on the renewables like offshore/onshore wind, solar, wave, hydro, and even marine algae and livestock waste reuse (ew!) I’m at 75% by 2050!! Apparently, if I do some sequestering (plant a lot of green stuff) and shuttle HVDC electric balancing things across Europe, I get to 89% Yessss!!!! Now I suppose this doesn’t all come free or grow naturally with consumer demand or normal industrial innovation, so sadly I go back to the budget side…

Here, not to scare any old or rich people, we learn that raising Social Security benefit age to 69, taxing all income for SS deductions, slowing/indexing benefit growth, we can reduce the 2050 deficit to 97% of GDP. Moving to the healthcare side, a few simple reforms such as reducing medical lawsuits, more Medicare copays, better pharmaceutical negotiations and (Gag!) replacement of Obamacare with State block grants, we are magically down to 53% (oh the shame, but maybe we’ll go back to this later). Now by reducing various subsidies and tweaking seemingly too generous benefits, I’m even down to 38%, so now I’ll see if I can spend some on clean energy and restore Obamacare…back to 57%! Now taxation, the 9th inning of budget balancing…tax the rich-Yes! Sin tax-Yes! Rescind Trump tax reform-Yes! Carbon tax-Yes! Hey this is easy, I’m down to 6% and I can even afford to expand Medicare and only increase it to 25%.

Most importantly, I’ve solved the world’s problems and am still under my 800 word limit, the world is clean and safe…oops! There goes World War III in 2051, and the world is a mess again, with no hopes of paying to clean it up! Sorry.

Enjoy these other Vern Scott articles re: the current state of Green Energy!

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Vern Scott

Scott lives in the SF Bay Area and writes confidently about Engineering, History, Politics, and Health