I want to thank you for your coverage on Morning Edition (5-18-10) on our energy future with reference to the dangers of off-shore drilling. I was pleased that you put its obvious hazards into dialogue with the matter of our projected liquid-fuel needs. Too often we are told that we simply “need to get off oil,” or that we should just “drill-baby-drill” regardless of potential consequences. It is less common to see the two issues discussed together.
However, the implied either/or of this discussion fails to address another, and ultimately necessary option—namely that of drastically scaling back on our total energy use. Despite the inevitability of this sort of power-down, NPR, like virtually all other media outlets, has been remiss in performing some basic research and doing a little math (or interviewing those who have) with regards to energy supplies, capacities, and demand.
For the notion that our current or projected liquid fuel needs can be met by a switch to alternative bio-fuels is a fantasy, as is the assumption that we might power a way of life similar to our current one on wind, solar, and hydro-electric, even nuclear. The numbers just don’t add up
But attempting to maintain an oil-based economy, with the inevitable decline in fossil-fuel reserves, is no better an option. Recently a report commissioned by the Joint-Chiefs of Staff suggested that a world-wide shortfall of 10 million barrels a day could occur as soon as 2015. I was surprised at the lack of coverage of such a momentous and stark report by a government source not generally associated with the sustainability movement.
The only other viable option, other than hitting a wall or driving off a cliff, is a national energy descent. It is disappointing that, despite the high likelihood that one of these scenarios will be realized within the next generation, NPR consistently fails to provide any coverage on a power-down or intentional energy descent option, while also refusing to question the assumptions of the alternative energy or oil industry, or examine their fuzzy math.
Around the globe movements that are realistically assessing Peak Oil and Climate change are arising, movements such as the Transition Movement, to which I belong. There is plenty of well-researched work on these issues by writers such as Richard Heinberg, Pat Murphy, and James Kunstler. Please do not let your listeners down. Please take a real and hard look at our energy future; please question the plausibility of any of the more common options.
Erik Lindberg, PhD