After reading the brutally honest column The New Red, White and Blue by Thomas L. Friedman about our leadership ignoring our dependence on oil (remember, they are oil men), I was inspired to share my thoughts about our energy predicament in the United States.
The media applauds and highlights the technology prowess of Apple and its slick iPods, Google and its search wizardry, and electronics manufacturers who celebrated Christmas by selling millions of huge high-definition TVs. I worry that there aren’t enough smart people applying comparable intelligence and hard work to solving our energy problems. I fear that our young people believe that if they have enough music and video, everything will be fine. I hope they don’t have to face the harsh reality of the oil shortages we experienced in the 1970s and the cloud of worry and despair that hung over our country during that period. Consumers are great and necessary, but I think we need to remember that a constant stream of music and video is a luxury compared to energy for heating, cooling, and commuting. Our productivity must balance our consumption.
In my humble opinion, the money we’ve spent trying to democratize Iraq would have been better spent developing solar systems to supplement our electrical infrastructure and hydrogen cells to power our cars and buildings — but that money is gone. We need to face the fact that our country has a significant energy habit and many of the countries that supply this energy would like to destroy us (except that they like spending our money). Ultimately, someone with high visibility (is it Thomas Friedman?) had to deliver the bad news: we need to face the realities of our life style and we need to get to work creating a viable alternative to an oil-based society. We don’t even want to consider what happens if a perfect storm of events removes much of our energy supply.
We can enjoy iPod music, Google searches, and high-def TVs, but let’s not forget to support the leaders, visionaries, inventors, scientists, and entrepreneurs who are trying to provide an alternative to spending billions of dollars every month with countries who want to see us decline and falter. They are doing really important work and they must succeed!