We are currently facing a transition that has monumental consequences. The transition to energy independence by the US, in part by alternative sources, is not an easily plotted path. It is a myriad of paths that crisscross environmental, economic, political, technical and foreign relations issues. The consequences will be determined by our stewardship, our ability to navigate amongst these issues. Like a bellow stoking the fire, this transition will be marked by periods of vacuum and high pressures.
Renewable energy has been used by man since the beginning. Simply choosing the right color of fur to don in winter, baking brick in the sun, or draining lowland water with wind power, its use has always been a means to achieve safety and comfort. Oil brought up from its pool of fossil decay became the alternative. As time passed, oil was the usual contender and renewable sources surrendered, to dwell as a primitive commodity.
As this nation expanded and brought forth fertile land spurred by technology and fossil fuel products, it was considered a good thing. Each farmer increased his domain, fuel powered his machines, natural gas was the foundation for better fertilizer and more people were fed. We well could have begun an alternative fuel revolution back then. Popular acceptance would have been slim, but the consequences of such a move would for the most part have been positive. However, today is a completely different situation.
First, we must look beyond our borders. What forces has oil put upon our foreign relations and foreign policy? Should our attention be diverted from the fact that we will be dependent on oil for a long time? Do we stop oil exploration, start competing with emerging markets, and continue to receive oil from intensely unstable areas of the world?
Inside our borders, what effect will harnessing food sources and diverting them to ethanol plants have? Whose backyard will bear the unsightly swath of wind generators? How much money do we spend? Who gets it? What if you can but your neighbor cannot afford a new car powered by alternative fuels?
These are only a few questions. We need proper leadership to help us through this inevitable transition. We the people need as much information as possible so that we don’t fall to superior guidance with inferior motives or thoughtful guidance with lack of breadth. The consequences will be monumental. I hope they will be recorded in history as a monumental triumph.