There are reasons behind the motives for new energy and fuel methods to keep the world economy growing and preserve our way of life while making it possible for everyone else to improve their lives too. It’s oft-said in assorted ways that we’ll need all the energy from every source, every joule, every molecule. As a practical matter that’s a truth, leavened by the price of energy or a fuel and the cost to acquire the tools to use them. Some are pointing out that the high price of oil is an opportunity, and that’s a valid view, but life in the journey has gotten pretty hard for many, and for many more the chance to participate, even further out of reach. Just because someone isn’t feeling much or any pain from fuel and energy prices is no license to extol the “wonderful” opportunity that the oil price run up has created.

Here are the Big Six Reasons that make this a critical issue everywhere.

  1. Concern about the pricing of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and its products such as gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. By no means is the market finished gyrating – we can expect, one way or another for the prices to go up and down. The market influences are many and all that I see are dynamic on their own. This uncertainty is cause enough in many ways to overcome the inevitable periods when fossil fuel prices may be so low as to kick out the supports of alternatives.
  2. The job and manufacturing issue is a both a concern for job losses and job gains, investment in factories and sales. It’s a very important reason and as a policy issue should out weigh the pricing issue. Politicians are gifted at following the media’s lead and the media enjoys a huge advantage in allowing whom and what ideas get access when they choose what story gets to market. We might want to make a point of being sure to click on energy and job stories to push traffic so that the media outlets and advertisers get the message.
  3. The money that’s gone. The fossil fuel importers are exporting wealth. Simple as that. The current situation is a huge transfer of wealth that cannot be compared to any in history with a sense of economic reason. The exporters are piling up money or frittering it away at incredible rates. The flip side is the money isn’t engaged in fair trade, invested, saved or productive. In circumstances when fossil fuel prices ratchet up quickly massive financial dislocations occur and like a virus permeate the whole of the world economy. The effect is negative to both the importer with devalued money and exporter with devalued money. Irrational prices will rationalize, but the monetary value adjustments always harm the whole.
  4. Its interesting that in the 21st century there remain despots, nuts, tyrants and other assorted bad actors that are the recipients of the fossil fuel sales bonanza. Whether it’s the list at OPEC or the Axis of Oil, the money going there isn’t making a better world at all, rather the citizens of the world are faced with a long list of expensive problems to solve, including death, disease, hunger, and living conditions not fit for anything human. To spend all that money and see it in turn spent on aggression, weapons sales, terrorism and the insidious spread of more of the same, this alone is cause for serious military spending. The security issue for some is financial, but for hundreds of millions its life and death.
  5. Peak oil is a theory that enjoys a following that grows and makes for exciting thinking if you’re determined to waste intelligence. You can pick any of several parameters and have a peak oil scenario. Or not. It’s a game of fooling oneself and others for reasons of influence. What matters is the margin of production over use. Whether its 50 or 75 or 100 million barrels of production per day, that margin is the topic of interest, the one that matter. Just be truthful, peak oil is for fun, not for making decisions.
  6. Lastly, global warming or climate change is a powerful motivator to many. As a reason it remains the weakest by a large margin. Based in prognostications about CO2 in the atmosphere a movement of huge and dangerous dimensions has grown to impact a wide range of important topics. The capacity to do grave harm to billions of people based on nothing more than an assumption that such or another amount of CO2 is bad in the face of not knowing what an optimal CO2 level would be to have such a sized human population or healthy ecosystem is a fool’s errand. However, in this field is lots of good data that proves flowing huge amounts of effluent chemicals into the atmosphere will have disastrous consequences. The U.S. can show graphically what a resulting acid rain effect can do to huge swaths of the planet’s surface. If you think CO2 is a problem, just wait – there will come a day when the effluent harm from the third world will go over threshold just as it did in the U.S. and we’ll see a disaster of unimaginable proportions – after the harm is done. It would do the world a great service if the environmental community would pull its collective head out of the sand and look at the planet. I could respect the movement again if they focused on the known problems instead of some theory.

There you are. The Big Six Reasons for changing the energy and fueling methods of modern human society. It’s illuminating to see them condensed and sorted through. I often check what I see and read against the list to grasp the motives. In the end, it’s the motives that will keep everyone afloat economically, the world economy more inclusive of everyone, and a make a peaceful safe and enjoyable life attainable. Being able to see the motives behind what’s coming at you is the first and often the most important measure to judge the value of information.


3 Comments so far

  1. Groucho Marx on July 24, 2008 6:18 AM

    I got two words for you:

    Tipping point.


    Groucho, Al Gore, James Hansen, Harpo

  2. Brian Westenhaus on July 24, 2008 9:55 AM

    So, Grouchy? I can identify several in the past 40 years. None of which matter now. The “tipping points” are just market signals that things will change. I’m not wasting my thinking on the tipping point, I’m thinking about the change and how I can make it work for me and mine.

    I have three words for you. What comes next . . .

  3. ks on July 24, 2008 10:14 AM

    I think this is a good list and I particularly like using it to get at underlying motivation. Just as we need a lot of solutions, I think we need to rely on a lot of different stimuli to move forward. The recent change in rhetoric that tends to focus on several grounds for energy change (environment, PO, national security, economics), rather than just one (eg climate) is a promising shift.

    I especially like the focus on the margin of production over use instead of peak oil scenarios. Have you written elsewhere on this?

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