- Fossil fuels are limited. I learned in college, in 1977 that they would start running out somewhere around the turn of the century. Some new techniques in drilling have stretched the supply a little, but there is no more to be found. The last major find was over 20 years ago.
- Prosperity in China and India are radically acclerating the consumption of what little oil is left. Picture that in less than 100 years we've used almost all of the globe's oil, and for 75 of those years we barely consumed anything compared to our current rate. Do the math.
- Radical alternative mining techniques, such as tar sands and coal shale are environmental disasters once you have a firm grasp of the logistics... the huge amount of energy we consume, vs. the material that must be harvested. Do you understand that unlike oil and gas, which spew almost unaided from the ground, these alternates NEED HUGE AMOUNTS OF ENERGY JUST TO HARVEST?
- Current alternative "fuels" such as ethanol and fuel cell cars are a mirage . Ethanol, while having some merits, takes substantial energy to create. Whether there's a net positive energy yield is apparently debatable. Fuel cell cars run on hydrogen. Do you know where the hydrogen comes from? Again, unlike oil, it does not spew forth from a hole in the grould. As described in Consumer Reports magazine, current techniques use natural gas to produce it.
- Pure sustainable energy, such as solar, geothermal, wind, and ocean currents, are great and should be maximized but if we exploit them to near perfection, they do not come close to meeting our current consumption. For the next 50 years we desperately need to safely use nuclear energy. Fear over its use, while once excusable in the face of corporate shortcuts, is no longer an option.
- Our energy consumption is about 2/3 industrial and 1/3 consumer. No matter how efficient we try to be as individuals, it won't solve the problem. Only when the price of fuel goes way up will individuals or businesses radically cut back on consumption. If we double the mileage of gasoline cars, there will be twice as much driving. (In fact, be prepared for twice as much car traffic because of the constantly increasing wealth of society and the durability of cars.)
- If we are fortunate enough to produce inexhaustible, clean energy, such as nuclear fusion, biomass, or genetically controlled bacteria, the global warming problem may ultimately occur.. The unanswered question will be "How much pure heat can we continue pump into the ecosphere?"
- Oil and terrorism, whether you like it or not, are simply two sides of the same coin. The problems of the Middle East are now occurring in Nigeria where American oil company employees are kidnapped because of our activities there. The world is no longer ours to do with as we please.
Except for the damage already done to the environment, this challenge does not have to translate to hard times or economic peril. The collective wealth of our society is many times greater than our average standard of living. All we have to do is ensure that the activities needed to solve the problem are translated into jobs, not corporate handouts.