The Fat Man’s Cure

Projections of future renewable energy use are dismal. Yes, total renewable use will increase in the next 20 years, but so will total energy consumption. So we’ll see more use of wind, solar, and biodiesel, while the fossil fuel market continues to expand to meet growing demand. According to some projections, renewable use will hover around 10 to 15 percent of total energy consumption.

Advocates of the Peak Oil theory need not be concerned, for natural gas and especially coal will rise to the occasion and take the place of oil as our primary source of energy.

The hope that a suite of clean, renewable energy sources will soon replace our insatiable oil addiction is not just fantasy, it is dangerous and self-defeating. It is as if the doctor told the fat man to stay on the couch and eat bananas instead of potato chips. Sounds like the doctor is trying to keep the fatman comfortable so he doesn’t have to change his behavior.

The progressive movement needs to tell the metaphorical fat man to get off the couch and ride his bike. Our push towards renewables must go hand in hand with global changes in behavior. Our buildings and cities, watersheds, farmlands and transportation systems need to be redesigned to reduce our economic dependence on gluttonous over-consumption.

An overwhelming body of scientific evidence now suggests that the alternative is unimaginable global catastrophe. I am cautiously optimistic. On the one hand, I believe that change is possible. Yet the world’s powerful will resist it every step of the way. In the meantime, I’ll be doing what I can to prepare for the already inevitable shifts in average global temperature.

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