Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Power, Part 3

We hear a lot of talk about reducing or eliminating our dependence on foreign oil. There's even some talk about moving away from fossil fuels entirely. But what happens to the Middle East (& Venezuela, etc) when we start building electric cars powered by solar generators, and the US is no longer importing 10 million barrels of oil a day? Sure, oil consumption in places like India and China is rising, but presumably India & China would use solar & wind too, right?

We'll always need some petroleum, but what happens if world consumption becomes a fraction of today's rate?

I think a large-scale move away from oil and towards solar, wind, hybrid vehicles, etc would seriously destabilize the Middle East... and it's not a really stable place to begin with. Their income would bottom out, and we in the West would be quite a bit less interested in what's happening over there. Unless of course people from over there come over here and do bad things. But maybe we figure they'll be too busy fighting each other for water to bother attacking us? I sort of doubt it.

So, while I think renewable, sustainable, non-polluting approaches to producing power are important and good... there is certainly a downside to that story. I still want to see more solar & wind power generation systems, but it's important to keep in mind that nothing happens in a vacuum. As Michael Pollan points out in his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, "you can never do just one thing."


Michelle said...

Interesting and very valid point.

I know, if we could just harness my five-month-old's gas, we'd ALL be much happier. :)

The Dan Ward said...

Hey, good luck with that, Michelle!