I was just reading the June issue of National Geographic — the special energy edition. The issue has some interesting perspectives on fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and a good interview with Obama’s energy chief.
But one philosophical energy statement totally threw me off this morning:
“Think of energy use like prudent calorie intake. Consume what is necessary. Make healthy choices. Keep waste to a minimum. Live well.”
This analogy lends itself to failure like a fad dieter on the Atkin’s Diet. As much as diets and true “prudent caloric intake” do not work for most Americans, neither will wise energy conservation. Our mindsets have been trained to consume in every meaning of the word.
Since the Industrial Revolution, energy advancements, and thus consumption, have been doubling nearly every decade. Suddenly, within the last couple hundred years, we have begun drawing on the deposits of oil, coal and gas that were sitting dormant for thousands of years. And until those deposits are truly in danger of dwindling, nothing will stop us from using them.
Especially as Americans, we are bred to consume. Until I lived in the Philippines in ‘05-’06, I had no idea what it was like to go a few days without electricity or running water. As unpleasant as a cold bucket shower is, I realized I could make it in life — and be just as modern and happy — without all of my energy amenities.
Energy conservation is a wonderful theory. Some of President Obama’s plans for educating on energy conservation may actually work. But overall, the “green” lifestyle seems to be nothing more than a trend. For the average American, sticking to a lifestyle of strict energy conservation seems about as likely as sticking to a 1800 calorie per day diet.