We as a species have come up against a quite a few problems, (at least) two of which related to energy. First, there is only so much energy on the planet in the form of fossil fuels — coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Second, the burning of these fossil fuels, according to research done by climate scientists, is warming our planet, which could have negative impacts on our environment in the future.

Is it even possible to solve these problems? Are the solutions to the problems related? Can we kill two birds with one stone?

I think the answer to all these questions is “yes.” The question then becomes not can, but how? How should we go about solving these problems that will come back to bite us in the future?

There seem to be two schools of thought that are most prevalent in the political debate that has formed around this topic. The first is the conservative notion that the second problem isn’t a problem at all, and to deal with the first problem is an attack on our liberty to use whatever fuels we please as well as potentially harmful to business. The second is the liberal notion that we have to do anything we can to solve the second problem before it is too late, and doing so should solve the first problem at the same time.

I would like to propose that both approaches to our energy problems are flawed, either in their premises or in their approaches (or both).

Let’s start with the conservative approach. It is wrong on its face due to its denial of global warming. The science tells us the earth is warming, and we are most likely the cause, plain and simple. (I again encourage you to check out this series on the subject, which is very well done.) The latter piece of it, a hodgepodge of offense at the idea of being forced not to be an idiot and typical conservative defense of big business (which has plenty of resources to take care of itself), is similarly flawed, because it does not even make an attempt to solve the first problem we have (that we’re running out of fossil fuels). However, I do not necessarily blame them, due to how the liberals are handling things…

The liberal approach, while at least based in scientific accuracy, is not completely based in reality. It places far too much emphasis on global warming and the environment. While it is noble to fight these issues from a liberal standpoint, it is akin to insanity from a conservative outlook. Liberals do not seem to understand that by making the issue global warming, they have given conservatives an easy out. Conservatives are comfortable with ignoring facts, especially scientific ones, so they are more than happy to turn the whole thing into a public referendum on the legitimacy of climate science.

Here is what I propose: drop the global warming issue. Not outright, because conservatives would jump on that and claim they were right all along. But over time, increase the emphasis on the need to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, lest we have to bow to the Middle East to get our country to function.

If we can get the debate focused on how to solve the energy problems (be that with wind or solar or nuclear energy) instead of whether there is a problem at all, I think we can actually make some progress.

~peace, RR

I welcome comments and suggestions. Comments can go below, suggestions to radiantreason[at]gmail[dot]com šŸ™‚