Tuesday, August 30, 2005


In the wake of hurricane Katrina and the seeming inevitability of $3/gal. gasoline, I'd hazard a guess that we've got ample incentive to restore the word conservation to the american energy policy dialog. and just where is that dialog anyway? ever since the egregious excuse for an energy bill was passed by the lobbyists on capitol hill--- uh, excuse me, by our congress--- it seems like no one's talking about what we should do next.

call me alarmist, but I don't really think that the profiteers who continue to promote a blood-for-oil agenda--- no matter how powerful they are--- can hope to stop the coming energy crisis. true, history doesn't generally support predictions of doom like mine. (look at the 70s energy crisis fizzle.) actually, I'm not predicting doom so much as offering my hope that america will finally rise to the challenge of dismantling the fossil-fuel economy and erecting in its place a renewable energy standard--- incidentally, one that doesn't lend itself to being or becoming the basis of our nation's (or the world's) economy, as the fossil-fuel geopolitical complex has done.

besides, the 70s crisis did provide the invaluable service (and often underestimated, in talk of trends and socio-economic movements) of consciousness-raising that is an essential precusor to radical social change. imagine where we'd be now if there had been no 70s energy crisis, if jimmy carter hadn't asked us all to drive 55 and turn down the thermostat. we'd be even less prepared for the rapidly approaching dissolution of the present oil economy: notions of conservation, such as they are, would be even further from our consciousness; the invaluable public and private r&d into renewable energy (and the resultant economies of scale that have continued to drop the unit price, in constant dollars, of renewable-sourced energy) would all be ahead of us, squeezed into what promises to be a tight timeframe. all in all, a considerably more painful future than what we presently face.

as the "third world" (eew! those people again?) "develops" and demands its share of energy for industrialization, the fossil-fuel economy, which up to now has been one based on export from those same countries to the voracious "first world" consumers, will be subject to--- shall we say violent reorganization?--- as those nations' despotic, figurehead, westward-saluting regimes are toppled by populist (dare we say "democratic"?) movements bent on retaining the resources they're presently exporting (and with little benefit to the nations' people). everyone's going to want a piece of the pie (however we define pie) and when the pie-making ingredients (i.e., oil and its derivatives) start to get scarce, some things are bound to change.

here's a great opporunity for america actually to lead (instead of just giving lip-service to promoting democracy and helping poorer nations and yada yada blah blah, while in fact merely playing international chess to sustain our own lust for power through oil): if we can not only tackle and solve our own energy "crisis" through development of a new renewable energy infrastructure, but also convince developing nations that we have a much more sensible path to prosperity for them to follow that is sustainable in the long term--- and materially and generously support them in such efforts--- then the world would take an enormous leap toward peace, sustainability, environmental remediation, and geopolitical stability.

the real crisis is not any actual lack of energy, rather it is the insatiable, unsustainable consumption-crazed mindset of americans and other first-world people who refuse to acknowledge the dangers of our present global energy economy.

let's get to work, america.


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