The Complexity Understanding the Energy Mix is Not Generational

Image from Charles NGO.

Image from Charles NGO.

September 25, 2013

By Dr. Tyra OldhamLANDsds Sustainable Voice News

 

Can  we simply classify a group of  people and determine their understanding on energy. The pull and push in the energy mix is not new but indeed heightened. The windmill is not new so the role of wind energy is not. Many cultures used the sun; therefore, solar is not. Water was always used as an energy solution so the newness is in the technology. The consideration of  “People Under 40 Simply Don’t Understand the Energy Reality” is an assumption worth exploring.

Wall Street Journal  offered, “There are two fundamental misconceptions about renewable energy: 1) It is robust, 2) Status quo resistance prevents displacement of traditional energy. This comes particularly from people younger than 40, who came of age in the post Rio ’92 era. They are worried about the earth’s climate, believing traditional fuels destroy the earth.
Truly energy from all sources is the future given the demands for energy and the limits of our supply base. We must utilize traditional sources or succumb to a lower level of economic activity with limitations on lifestyles. But trying to explain this to renewable supporters invites disbelief. It becomes impossible for too many to reconcile that renewable energy is not the only answer. They ignore that renewable energy is intermittent, small scale, too costly and capital intensive to be commercial, and creates its own environmental degradation. And they’re intolerant to the suggestion that traditional energy could be used in cleaner ways.”

The emotionality presented from a oil and gas man depicts under 40 as unable to grapple with the complexities of oil and gas and renewable mix. The importance of environment is indeed relevant focus on the world stage. The environment 30 years ago had more green space triggering an attraction to environmental protections for those under 40.

But whose fault is it that so many people trust renewable solutions and disdain traditional energy sources? We collectively tolerate the misinformation perpetrated to the public and do nothing to change the pervasive lack of information about energy that permeates our society. Those with the most at stake, our leadership across government, industry, institutions and associations, are collectively to blame for the nation’s lack of understanding or an energy plan for the future.

John Hofmeister former president of Shell Oil Co. and founder and head of Citizens for Affordable Energy and member of the U.S. Energy Security Council said, “So what do we do? We stay on the current path until costs and shortages cause an economic and social crisis. Or, we come to grips with the real problem. We’re not governing energy appropriately in this complex, dynamic and sophisticated century. We’re past the points of letting markets rule or populism prevail. We need more and different, not less and fragmented, governance. Before it’s too late the nation’s leadership and its citizens need to agree a better decision-making way forward so energy remains affordable, available and ultimately sustainable.”

It is important to generate an energy mix where stewardship and social responsibility are integral to the big energy picture. The need for a sustainable path leads to a contextual understanding that produces responsible energy solutions considering the ecosystem. The masking of energy is not easy road but a complex undertaking. It was not too long ago that a buggy replaced the horse as transport, then trains to cars.  In every generation comes new technologies that was replaced with an alternative that was hard fought. We must continue not go gentile into that good night.

Dylan Thomas said so eloquently, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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