Some folks argue we must constantly seek ways to use less energy due to the supposed energy crisis. Others posit the very idea of an energy crisis is putting the emphasis in the wrong place.
I am more middle of the road on this one. I certainly believe we should avoid wasting energy. That is simply embracing good stewardship and efficient use of funds. Simultaneously, I know Americas collective creative genius has continuously bred increasingly more powerful innovations in energy technology and I remain confident it will continue to do so. I dont think we need to be zealots on either end of the spectrum.
This is why I chuckled upon reading Clive Thompsons recent book review of The Conundrum by David Owen (Unsaving the Planet Wired, March 2012, p. 42). Thompson comments on key observations by Owen:
Automobile engines have become much more efficient, but weve responded by demanding larger cars loaded with more electrical gewgaws. Air-conditioning has become more efficient, but weve made it a cultural norm that every room and vehicle nationwide must be cooled in summer. (p. 42)
The energy innovations themselves predispose our society to placing increasingly heavier loads upon our energy resources. This is not inherently a bad thing. Those increasingly heavier loads represent growth in the economy and growth in our world. Overall, standards of living improve.
Certainly, we might argue about any one persons wisdom or lack thereof with respect to how they choose and use energy resources. But that is not the point. The point is we have something called the human race. It is not going to stop existing. It is not going to stop demanding energy. And it is not going to stop identifying increasingly better ways to source and conserve energy simultaneously.
Energy: Use it or lose it. We really do have a choice about this. But I dont think for a minute that choice automatically boxes us into a corner.
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