SLAYING THE ENERGY BEAST.
Not exactly, at least right now. There’s plenty of energy to go around. It’s just that we don’t like what’s going on with it: That’s the crisis. We don’t like the prices at the pump. And we don’t like watching a nuclear power plant blow radiation into the air and water.
But of course this is all our own making. We’ve created this energy monster. Or more accurately, we’ve allowed this energy monster to be created and haven’t really done much to stop it from its usual attacks: Grabbing our money and throwing pollution in our faces.
We let the beast be created because of our addiction to energy, because of what energy does for us. It allows us to drive comfortable, powerful cars that get us from A to B effortlessly in minutes. The easy access to cheap energy lets us live in cozy warm homes or escape from the heat to cool ones so that we can be entertained by massive television sets that we leave on whether we’re watching or not.
Of course we don’t want this easy life to go away so we let the energy monster thrive. What would we do if we had to shiver or sweat in our homes or take hours to travel to the nearest store? Life wouldn’t be as we know it.
There are three ways to deal with the beast of energy. (A), learn to live with its related problems: more conflicts, more pollution and a changing climate. (B), hope that government steps in and does something about it. And (C) as individuals, businesses and organizations, learn to defend ourselves, protect ourselves from the global energy monster by being as clean energy self-sufficient as we can.
(A) doesn’t sound so pleasant and one scenario we rather avoid. But to some extent that’s the road were on now. Just in the past two decades we’ve gotten ourselves in two wars because of our energy interests (both with the same country, Iraq), And now we find ourselves involved in a conflict that hopefully will remove a lunatic leader who would have ousted long ago had it not been for the riches of oil. When and where is the next energy-related conflict? Iran? Venezuela? Saudi Arabia?
As for energy-related waste in the air, water and in the soils, here in the U.S. and much of the industrialized world, believe it or not, we’ve actually made progress cleaning up our energy act. And, China, still considered a developing country for some unknown reason, is on track to be the world’s clean energy leader. However, it’s big world out there and the cumulative effect of nations who do little about pollution is huge. The brown cloud of Asia makes its way to the U.S. west coast on occasion.
And global climate change? The weather has been certainly pretty strange (and unpleasant) in recent years. And from those who watch world’s ice caps and glaciers: Well, they ain’t what they used to be.
So we’re living with some unpleasantness and don’t really know if it will get much worse. Right now there’s nothing in sight that says things energy-wise will get much better as quickly as we’d like.
(B) Government action: nasty words to some. Using recent presidential history as a guide, during the years of the administrations of Clinton, Bush and now Obama significant steps have been made to either reduce energy consumption or seek alternatives. As examples, solar and wind energy are doing great with the help of state and federal governments. There wouldn’t be electric and hybrid cars on the roads today if governments didn’t help here and there with incentives or a push with legal mandates.
Obama just made a major speech on energy, wanting to cut our oil imports by a third in ten years and while pursuing more clean energy technologies. Looking at energy alone the Obama years will be marked by introduction of electric cars, building a charging infrastructure and watching solar energy grow. (If he gets a second term energy storage will be the energy hallmark of those four years.)
Give all recent Presidents, and some states, some credit for at least trying to slay the energy beast.
C) Individual and business energy self-sufficiency. The high cost of energy is damaging to an individual’s economy and the volatility of energy prices makes it difficult businesses to plan ahead. Money spent on energy that wasn’t spent before is money that won’t be spent elsewhere. Many people know this and so do businesses.
New energy efficient technologies are common now and good marketing has encouraged people to buy them. Even without a national mandate in effect, people are buying more efficient light bulbs as sales of conventional light bulbs have dropped 50 percent in recent years. And what business doesn’t like to show off it’s green credentials?
Perhaps people are expecting too much. Many want major energy change instantly. This isn’t going to happen. The monster took decades to be created. It will take decades to kill it. But with the underlying concern of (A), a little help from (B) governments, and energy consumer’s willingness to embrace new energies (C) change will come and we’ll eventually be saved from the beast.
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News
Fact Sheet: America’s Energy Security