Seven years and $750 billion later, the war in Iraq is officially “over”, but what do we have to show for it?  Every time I drive over a bridge with a “structurally deficient” grade ‘D’ safety rating, every time I see a group of bored kids idling on a sunny stoop during one of the hottest summers on record and every time I read about low-income families having their power turned off because they can’t afford to pay the bills, I think about all the pressing and expensive problems that desperately need our full attention.

If we really wanted to increase our national security and boost our economy, here’s what we could have done with the trillion we’ve spent in Iraq and Afghanistan: We could have put solar panels on the roof of every other single family home in the United States. Behind door number two, we have solar water heaters plus brand new Energy Star refrigerators, dishwashers and washer/dryers for every single family. Behind door number three, you’ll find a $5000 electric car rebate for every licensed driver in America.

Then again, we could have spent some of the trillion on schools, parks, bike lanes, social programs, a mission or two to Mars, or perhaps a trillion dollar green technology transfer to the developing world—you know, all those things we supposedly can’t afford. Our (emphasis on “our”) trillion dollars is gone, and it’s not coming back.  According to last week’s CBS news poll, 72% of Americans agree that the Iraq war was not worth the cost.  We can only hope—and demand—that our remaining financial and natural resources are spent more wisely.

–Erica Etelson

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.