Some days renewable energy opponents remind me of Charlie Sheen, argumentative to the point of stupidity.
Today is one of those days, with politicians saying once again that we can drill our way to prosperity, and should stop renewable energy subsidies in favor of fossil fuels.
I guess we have to explain about scarcity and abundance again.
When something is scarce, producing more of it does not make that thing less scarce. It becomes more scarce, because you just produced more of it. That’s the situation with oil and coal and natural gas. As we produce more we deplete the resource, making the next bit more scarce. That’s why Deepwater Horizon was drilling a mile under the Gulf of Mexico – it had to go where the remaining oil was.
I grant you, it is possible that, by drilling out the Gulf, North Dakota and Alaska, we can increase our production for the next 10 years, maybe even approach energy independence.
But what will we have won? A little time. Our kids will be right where we are today, only with oil and gas and coal even more scarce than they are today.
And what will our adversaries, like Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Ahmadinejad, have won in the meantime? Billions of dollars in revenue and even more power, because now the resource they control is even more valuable.
There is an alternative. We can harvest the energy all around us. We can harvest the energy of the Sun, of the wind, of the Earth beneath our feet. There is no shortage of this energy. They are all abundant. There is only a shortage of harvesting equipment, of technology for capturing and using that energy.
That’s what America’s renewable energy industries are about. We use what we’re burning more efficiently, and we improve our ability to harvest the Sun, the wind and the Earth. Every day there are new breakthroughs on all sorts of dimensions. On cost, on efficiency, on storage and use of that power.
No, right now it costs less to burn energy than to harvest it. But the cost of harvesting is declining, the cost of burning rising. The harvesting is all done here, the burning requires dealing with people you yourself like to call our enemies.
You want to do more burning and give our enemies more power over the future of our children? What do you call that, winning?
You make Charlie Sheen sound sane.