Friday, December 21, 2012

Energy independence is a misleading goal

In Michael A. Levi's op-ed piece for the New York Times entitled "The False Promise of Energy Independence", Levi lists a number of reasons why "energy independence" — specifically, regarding oil and gas — for the U.S., even if it should come to pass (and to my mind it's far from certain), could lead the country to make bad policy choices, notably, bad foreign policy choices.

Levi is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, so I get why he focused on energy independence's possible impact on foreign policy. Yet overriding every other concern is, and should be, this truth:

Reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable.

Fossil fuels are going to run out. That is an inescapable fact that no one, not even the professional reality deniers on the political right, can alter.

Moreover, the consequences of burning fossil fuels will be devastating for humankind. There might be time to reduce the impact on us by sharply reducing our usage of fossil fuels, but I strongly doubt it. That, however, is no reason not to be looking for sustainable alternatives. Remediating the environmental damage we've already done, and coping with the climatic changes we will have triggered, will require a lot of sustainable energy.

So, to reiterate:

Reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable.

More than that:

Not finding sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels is fucking insane.

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