Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Some thoughts on energy
There seem to be two main camps when it comes to energy. Drill baby drill pretty much sums up one of them. The idea is that there is still plenty of oil, gas, and coal out there. We just have to develop them better.
The second camp says we are running out. Put the whole Peak Oil movement into this group. There are arguments that we are actually past peak and already into deep energy decline.
Throw those two groups into a pit and see the fur fly.
Now imagine that the first group is right. On the bright side, we can keep on doing what we’ve been doing. Our cars, houses, and businesses can keep on running the way they always have.
The dark side is that we keep on running the way we’ve always run. The petro chemical industry continues to lay land to waste and pollutes our air and water. Even the cleanest fossil fuel technology does at least some damage. The really dirty ones, like coal plants in China, are foul indeed.
Big energy money continues to spend lavishly to buy political power from the top to the bottom. That has a real negative affect on democracy. The average guy and gal continue to pay ever increasing energy bills. Business as usual has some pretty negative things associated with it.
The running out camp thinking spans the gamut from things are getting bad to things are about to get apocalyptic. Every system that depends on energy, from agriculture to the military will either slowly fall apart of collapse overnight. Wow, things look grim!
What’s an individual to do? The good news is that they don’t have to wait for one group to be proven right to act. Let’s say the drill baby drill group is right. There is plenty of energy still in the ground. Okay, fine, but it’s still a limited resource. It might last 10 years or 100, but eventually it will run out. Even if it’s fine for 100 or even 200 years, why should we use it all up as quickly as possible? Shouldn’t we leave some for our decedents?
Let’s say it’s good for 1000 years. Do we want to be part of 1000 years of slavery to the big energy companies? Downsizing energy use and using sustainable alternatives frees a person from a bad system.
If the running out crowd is right, that same strategy puts a person in position where they still have enough energy to live comfortably.
Having low energy needs that can be mostly met though sustainable alternatives gives a person freedom. The best part is that action can be taken right now. It’s best to not wait to see who’s right as either scenario has big downsides. Individual influence doesn’t mean much. However, a whole lot of people acting for personal freedom can change the world.
But don’t worry about changing the world. Change the way you live and reap the benefits right now, for yourself. No need to hop into the bear pit. Live better right now. Gain independence and freedom. What’s not to like?