Most of the discussions on energy that I've seen seem to accept that our current use of non-renewable sources makes some sense. And, more often than not, there's a reference to added growth. Doesn't make sense to me.
The problem I have is that we, in the United States, use more energy per capita than anyone else in the world. There should be some give. I understand that Donald Trump doesn't want to reduce his lifestyle to that of, say, someone living in Papua New Guinea, but I'm thinking more in terms of the difference between the US and Sweden or England.
So, for me, the real question is what is a comfortable standard of living? What do we need, really need, and how much energy does that require?
Give a little thought, for a moment, to just how much energy is involved in keeping a suburban house going. Can you easily walk or bicycle to where you can buy food or clothing? How much do you pay for cooling? How much do you pay for heating? What would you do if there was no gas for your automobile, or it was too expensive? What would you do if you couldn't heat or cool your home? It seems to me that these are very real questions.
Couldn't we create something that uses much less energy that satisfies our basic needs?
Amory B. Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute, has been one of the pioneers in pointing out nitty gritty ways for those in business as well as government to use energy more efficiently. Everything I've seen suggests that we could live comfortably on a whole lot less energy usage. You can check out RMI's website here: http://www.rmi.org/
So, the first prong I see, looks at all the ways we could conserve energy. Maintain as much of our present lifestyle as we can but take into account the family in Papua New Guinea that's getting by on $903 a year. Maybe better than we are.
The second prong involves energy sources that aren't going to disappear in 100 years or so. We've been through the age of petroleum. It was a gas. But it's time to settle down into what's really going to keep our kids, and their kids, and the kids after that, going. Look at your son, and/or your daughter. Look at your granddaughter, or grandson. And think about the world they'll inherit. CAN you walk or bicycle to where you can buy food and clothes??
Drill for more. Okay. Fine. Keep drilling. Though what Mark Twain said about land isn't true about oil. There's only so much. And one day we'll hit the bottom. And your great grand daughter is going to die.
Throw coal on the fire? Basically it's a really dirty fuel that takes a lot of finessing to come up smelling like a... well, not a rose. And even if you can get it to smell like a rose you've got to deal with the fact of strip mining and that there's only so much.
Depend on oil rich sands and shale. Hmmm. Reminds me of squeezing a turnip. Yup. Thar's oil there. But not enough to get anywhere close to satisfying our current demand.
Nuclear. Or should I say "Nuclr"? Those folks can indeed make energy. But at what cost? Where are you going to store the waste? Yucca Mountain doesn't want it and they're all out in the middle of nowhere. And you're talking 10,000 plants. Where's all that waste going to go? The stuff that doesn't die for God knows how many years?
I don't know the answers. I'm not claiming to. But I have to say I don't see much of what is working today that will be working in 100 years. And I have a daughter, a son-in-law, and two grand sons to worry about.
Okay. You set up a small wind generator. And piss on it. But in 100 years the wind is still blowing. And if the generator has been maintained, by your daughter, her son, or someone else, it's still creating energy.
Okay. You set up a solar cell panel. And piss on it. One would hope that 100 years hence that the sun was still shinin' and would bless your panel with energy.
Okay, you stick a pipe into the ground and try to capture a little geothermal power. And just maybe your great great grandperson is able to sit back in his chair and say, "My great great grandaddy made it possible for me to feel this wonderful warm air." Wouldn't that mean something to you?
Or you could stick your pipe in a creek and have some hydro. Doesn't need ot be a big creek either. I just want my grandsons to have a future and your grand daughters to have one too.
We're talking people here. Future generations. Can what we're doing now continue into the far away future? And if not, why not? And if not, what are we going to do about it?
I don't know about you but I want the sons of my grandson's sons to be sitting pretty. So I propose that we look at using less and making what we look at go for more. They might have less than we do but at least they'll be alive.