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Energy crisis

By Jim Killebrew

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[January 07, 2014]  Of late I have been hearing the clarion cry of those who would have us abandon our current energy sources using fossil fuels.

The producers of oil have been demonized, the practice of "fracking" has been maligned as irresponsible, moratoriums on drilling for oil and mining for coal have been implemented, and some have suggested we strengthen, with government stimulus funding, the alternative energy efforts to find ways to provide alternative sources of energy, including solar power, wind power and water power. At this current point in our national development, those alternative sources are not nearly as marketable in society at large as is the dependence on fossil fuels.

It may seem like I am an advocate of everything Big Oil; the fact is, I believe we need to do something to protect our planet from being soiled to the point of interfering with life. But the reality is that we have during the last century put ourselves in a position that has brought us to a dependency on the fossil fuels we must have to run industrial nations, irrespective of their political ideology. At this point on the spectrum of human existence, we have sold our souls to the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Without those things we would be required to return to the so-called Middle Ages, when ships depended on wind and travel depended on feet. The truth is, no person in any industrialized society or otherwise would be willing to give up the industrialization and technological advances we have with oil. Remember, much more is made from oil than just gasoline. Look around the environment: Literally tens of thousands of "things" are made from oil derivatives.

Now, having said all of that, in politically driven societies like any society in the West or the East that has risen above the mere existence of tribal life that may be found only in some African countries, or the National Geographic Magazine, or the so-called Third World countries, we have to contend with "special interest groups" and lobbyists who exert tremendous influence to campaigns on both sides of the aisle, where politicians profit substantially by talking out of both sides of their mouth. The example of our supply of fossil fuels is a case in point. Studies have revealed that in North America we have reserves in oil and natural gas that would eliminate the need to get oil from the Middle East, where people are trying to wreck our society. We already get a large supply of our oil from Mexico and Canada, but the political, environmental, special interest groups and lobbyists will compel us to continue to use the vast amounts of oil imported from other countries since they are effectively persuading the current politicians in power to prevent the use of domestic oil reserves.

If for some reason the United States alone decided to completely abandon the use of fossil fuels and return to the life of the farmers as in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House," using coal oil only to light the nighttime darkness and the horses, mules and oxen to turn the soil in the fields, how long do we think China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, or Western Europe for that matter, would allow America to stand as a nation? How many people would give up their flat-screen, plasma, 60-inch, wall-mounted, HD television sets in favor of returning to front porch sitting to fulfill their social craving? Who is in favor of giving up the Internet, Android or the iPhone for smoke signals? I suspect that most people would have problems with that lifestyle, and we would likely see wholesale rioting in the streets if we should flip the switch from the 21st to the 19th century.

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Likely that scenario would end with the "dreadful" rich leaving for greener pastures to live in the 21st century somewhere else in the world, while those with no or less means would remain at the mercy of a "survival of the fittest" type of society. Gone would be basic essentials such as clean water, sewage systems, transportation, jobs, grocery stores changing to bartering systems, communications except for person-to-person, healthcare except for homeopathic home remedies and of course, life expectancy.

I believe there is a real significant difference between the character of a person who lived at the end of the 18th century, 19th century and the industrial age at the beginning of the 20th century. Those people were motivated with a work ethic that drove them to invent what we have today. "Necessity is the mother of invention," and those people looked forward to making life more comfortable and providing a better world for their children.

Contrasting our modern character, whose mainstay is more dependency than fortitude, the work ethic has dwindled to expectations of anticipation of higher minimum wages instead of entrepreneurial risk. The poor in America are just as dependent on ease and comfort as the rich in America. The rich may shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and pay $700 for a shirt, but the poor have Wal-Mart, strip malls, bargain basements, thrift stores, department stores and perhaps even hand-me-downs for knockoffs that at least give the appearance of some prosperity. Retail outlets provide opportunities for appliances, gym membership, used cars, discount vacations and generic food with plain labels that provide meals of nourishment that in some countries people are as unlikely to obtain such delicacies as many Americans would have difficulty obtaining meals at the Waldorf.

So, perhaps our country should consider moving toward alternative energy sources on an incremental basis and titrate our reliance on oil on a gradual course that maintains our standard of living comparable to the 21st century rather than gutting modernism in favor of tribalism. Therefore, we should stop with the war between the environmentalists and the producers of energy to whom we are in deep dependence at the present time. Perhaps it is time for the "leaders" in Washington to stop sitting on their thumbs debating nonessentials and get to work creating a plan that will carry our nation into future generations with sound doctrine for renewable energy, sound education, strong protection from outside harm, reasonable healthcare, fairness in taxes and a return to the work ethics of yesteryear to propel us as leaders for finding answers to domestic and worldwide problems afflicting the human condition.


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