I've been thinking a lot about energy lately because this is the time of year when I'm using the most. The days are dark. The nights are long, and the lights are always on. There's an oil bill, a gas bill, an electricity bill, and they're all hitting their annual highs, which means my budget is scraping its annual low. Too bad we can't run our world on cheap, plentiful, clean renewable energy. Oh wait...we can. That's what two separate studies (here and here) say. They found that the only thing stopping humanity from creating a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050 is humanity itself. That we are not eagerly and enthusiastically embracing this scenario is absolutely baffling. Fossil fuels are fouling our air, impacting our health, and pillaging our natural habitats. And they're costing us an utter fortune in the process -- some economists say the current movement of money to oil-producing nations is the largest transfer of wealth in human history. Instead of a plundered wallet and a pummeled environment, imagine this: Refueling your car for pennies. Never worrying about utility bills because if you have any at all, they're so small they don't even dent your latté budget. Turning the thermostat way up all winter and way down all summer without a second thought. What's not to love? And what's to wonder? We can do it. We just have to want to. Will it be simple? No. Will it be cheap? Probably not (though it'll certainly cost less than we seem willing to pay for fossil fuels and their fallout). Will it create new good-paying jobs in a high-tech homegrown energy economy that saves every family serious bucks? It's extremely likely. We've everything to gain by going for it and everything to lose if we don't. Yet at this point, we just aren't. We can blame it on lobbyists and point fingers at politicians. We can fault energy companies and entrenched interests, and certainly there's a lot of credit due there for the present lack of progress. But there's another dimension, too: we the people haven't been yelling for it loudly enough. As I sit here between a stack of skyrocketing energy bills and two reports that tell me it doesn't have to be this way, I wonder...what will it take to change this behavior? photo: Tim Bartel
The Inkslinger has written about environmental issues for over 20 years and is a freelance writer for some of America's most iconoclastic companies and non-profits. His true loves include nature, music of the Americana/rock and roll variety, interior design, books, old things, good stories, pagan rituals, and his wife of 24 years, with whom he lives in an undisclosed chemical-free rural Vermont location along with his teenage daughter and two infinitely hilarious Australian shepherds!