K.C. Golden writes on optimism and pessimism over at TomPaine.com.
The signs of a new, brighter energy future are everywhere.
Wind and solar power are the fastest growing electricity sources. NASDAQ just launched a clean energy index. Leading venture capitalists are making big bets on low-carbon energy sources. Auto dealers are carrying more hybrid and flex-fuel vehicles. Forward-looking communities are planning a future around people instead of cars. Farmers, entrepreneurs, investors—they’re all planting seeds for a cleaner, more secure energy future.
But they’re going too slow. Promising solutions are emerging, but our addiction to fossil fuels is getting worse and it’s killing us. War, climate disruption and economic insecurity are among its symptoms.
Now that we can see real pictures of the post-fossil fuel future—since it seems so tantalizingly possible—what can we do to accelerate it?
We can start by squaring up to a simple truth, fossil fuels are very costly. We pay some of the tab at the pump and in our utility bills. But we pay much more in the form of chronic national insecurity due to dependence on oil. We pay in the form of climate disruption—more intense storms, water shortages, ocean sterilization. We pay through the nose, through our lungs and through our declining standing in the world.
Won’t the truth of high fossil fuel prices fall hardest on those who can least afford it? Yes. That’s why we should invest in alternatives that are practical and affordable for everyone. The people who can’t afford $3 gas are the same people who pay in blood to defend our access to the next fix. They’re the ones who can’t move to higher ground when the water rises. If there’s one thing they can’t afford more than the truth, it’s our failure to confront the lie of “cheap” fossil fuels.