Rolling Blackouts, “nimby” protests, smog from the tail pipes, smelly water, corporate action – these are the answers society has come up with by operating rudderless energy plans. A few weeks back, a new Madone 4.7 came into my life. It’s an ancient Chinese secret borrowed from the Japanese who borrowed the concept from the French and styled impeccably by the Italians – a bicycle. Today, New York City has shifted traffic patterns for the bicycle and pedestrians out there. Laws were passed to make this possible. The internet has enabled you to order shoes and fine art without having to step into your car or break a sweat by Trekking to a local retailer.
Structural economic shifts are abound; human nature is not though.
The cheapest, healthiest option is what our national energy plan needs to be. The answer needs to employ those interested in earning a competitive wage. Global mineral scarcity paired with technology remains at the heart of the debate – as is the proper pricing of Carbon – mono and di (co2).
One of the main characters in the energy debate is T. Boone Pickens. His statesmanship is founded on an enlightened moment – premised on making a sound investment in his future. What Boone has achieved is a lobbying track record for his interests and fortunately for most of us slightly less well off. Boone diversified. Boone invested. Boone lost – and he gained. Boone stoked the debate because of patriotism and finances. Boone’s answer is short – term and like so many in his age short sighted. The wisdom is that America has unlocked a mountain of natural gas to be captured and used. It will run out. Technology can advance our needs but not when something is gone.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and one of the new titans of industry captivated by space flight, shares the podium for an alternative energy future. Like T. Boone Pickens, Musk has ponied up and invested in future technologies. His Tesla Motors is now a public company, SolarCity is actively expanding by paying for your panels for your home or business, and when the planet runs out of clean air, you will have to be transported to another earth like planet via Musk’s Space-X flight services.
For Boone, a mission to Mars is not realistic – nor is it feasible for most of us either. What we can do today is change our consumption habits. We can opt to buy an electric vehicle if our vehicle reflects our personality. We can opt to acquire the sexiest, most styled and comfortable rides of our choice – which can now be electric or natural gas. We can keep antiques in pristine condition like we might our best suit or cherished wines. But the plan of the future is to plan to choose wisely now. Positively consume and markets will turn faster than any politburo politician found in most state and federal seats. Influence laws with every purchase you make. The more you spend in a capitalist-democratic society is the means to causing structural change faster than lobbying and jockeying for pet projects.
Of course, the bicycle is part of the solution. It has evolved over time. It has suffered from dumping like solar and steel. A bicycle is feasible for singles who have life tethered to the net or families willing to abandon other modern comforts. Cities like Denver have found popularity in adding “public” bike sharing programs. Combined with mass transit may seem compelling. Yet the likely answer is the bicycle with a cleanly fueled vehicle. As world citizens we should simply commit ourselves to a smog free lifestyle that avoids unnecessary use of natural resources. America has the will – does she have the power?