It seems like everyone these days is talking about energy. On the Hill, politicians are literally yelling about it, with a natural emphasis on prices at the gas pump. Some propose increasing oil supply as the solution to energy woes, while others see this as an opportunity to speed up the shift to a new energy economy. Of all those clamoring to get their ideas heard, I put my stock in Nobuo Tanaka of the International Energy Agency, who says that the world needs a $45 trillion energy revolution.
Like I said, Mr. Tanaka works for the IEA, and if one takes the time to look at some of the IEA’s long-term projections for the world energy outlook based on the status quo, it is not a pretty picture. The predictions show massive growth in world energy needs, along with reductions in security of supply. Perpetuation of fossil fuel reliance leads to problems in world supply, which means even higher prices, drastically reduced energy security, and a scenario that makes a more peaceful world difficult to imagine. All the dire effects of global warming aside, long-term reliance on fossil fuels, no matter what your political affiliation, spells disaster.
Many, especially in the United States, are focused on the idea of increasing supply to ease costs, and while this may or may not be effective in the short-term, it seems that at best it ultimately delays the inevitable while ignoring the other side of the economic equation. Reducing demand seems a much more sustainable, long-term approach.
Beginning an energy revolution now sounds all the more appealing given these dire predictions, since it looks like the options are either peaceful energy revolution now, or violent energy revolution later.