The answer is sadly yes. We’ve lost our edge and focus by being on autopilot through the luxury of the last century called the Industrial Age. While we deplete the natural resources of clean air, clean water, and fossil fuels, 1.6 Billion people on the planet still have no “on – off” switch to call their own. In addition, we have experienced chemical and engineering creations that were done for economic purposes without any forethought to what their affects on the Earth would be. America’s need for instant gratification and self-focus have caused the downfall of their super power label. Climate change, reliance on foreign oil, biodiversity loss, air and water quality issues have all led us to being one of the least favorite countries on the planet. Can we get our groove back? As our new administration reminds us frequently, “Yes we can”. This is not only America’s problem, but this is a global problem. Through innovation, integration, and collaboration we can start solving the problems worldwide. This country built itself on an entrepreneurial spirit. By taking the lead in clean technology and clean power, this country positions itself to find its groove.
Energy facts as they stand today: US electricity demand is 3,659 Billion Kilowatt- hours per year. We currently, generate 49% of that using coal, 20% natural gas, 19% nuclear, 7.3% hydroelectric, 3.5% renewables, and 1.1% oil. Coal is currently the least expensive power and the most polluting. Nuclear is expensive to build and cheap to operate. Natural gas is cheap to build, but expensive to run. Wind is the cleanest to operate, but the least dependable. Solar is still a work in progress. So, what is this country’s answer to clean electricity that makes economic sense? A primary answer is energy efficiency. Building more energy efficient homes and buildings would reduce the need for all types of energy by approximately 30% with very little impact on economic cost. This efficiency not only reduces the need, but also reduces green house gas emissions. Simultaneously, a focus on the next greatest thing, whether it is more efficient wind, solar, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, reducing our usage far outweighs creating clean inexpensive electricity. In my opinion, an energy solution is going to be a blending of all of the above, taking into consideration energy efficiency as well as renewable energy sources. An “energy cocktail” based on needs and technology is a way for America to get its groove back.
The most valuable energy source, and one we frequently forget, is people energy. It is a source that has truly made this country what it is and will find the solutions to allow this country to re-establish itself as a super power. It’s all about the people, the passion, and acknowledging our role in this loss of groove. Through science and nature we will discover the solutions to what is broken. This is just one piece of the pie in pushing towards a sustainable nation.
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