(#250) — Whale oil provided lighting for the vast majority of people at home and at work up until 1850 and the whaling industry was fifth largest in the United States. But whale populations were reduced, the price of whale oil increased, and coal-derived synthetic fuels and kerosene, supported by large tax breaks and the invention of electric lighting eliminated the whaling industry. Profit maximizing and techno- logical innovation saved the whales.
Today we participate in another historical watershed. This is the age of renew- able, clean energy and energy efficiency. Coal, which supplies more than 50% of our electricity has lost 25% of its share of the electricity market to renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas. We use 60% less oil today than in 1975 to produce each $1 of GDP. According to Amory Lovins, our national economy can grow 158% by 2050, use no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, use 1/3 less natural gas and cost $5trillion less than current economic practice. Carbon emissions which threaten to end life as we know it and already cause horrific destruction of life and environment, would simultaneously be reduced by 80%.
The know how is readily available. No new laws are necessary. What we need is a consensus to re-design our economy to conform to the fabulous abundance available if we will live according to planetary requirements for sustainability.
Every day we spend $6 billion on oil purchases, remediation of some of their health and environmental impacts, waging war and supporting more than 1000 military installations around the world to secure adequate supply and stabilize price.. Corporate America, spends hundreds of millions at the state and federal level to get public subsidies to extract the $20trillion in oil deposits that remain beneath our national land mass. The science is as brilliant as the courage and fortitude of the early whalers. But, it makes no sense in terms of strict profit-maximizing unaided by public subsidy. Every stop at the gas pump provides incontrovertible evidence that none of this is successful, affordable or necessary
So, it is up to us, at the household, civic group, municipal level to make arrangements for the current and future conditions of our lives. It is easy enough to see where we need to go. Look at your savings account or check book interest rate.
At the end of the year, there is almost no contribution from the bank that uses depositor money to makes several times the amount of deposits in loans at interest rates several times greater. Change that.
Get a free energy audit of your home and other buildings. Secure a building retrofit that requires no upfront cost, no out of pocket expense as the installed energy efficiency measures more than pay for their cost from day one. Invest in solar renewable energy systems which return 7-12% every year.
Let’s build a Sullivan County Power Authority which can supply almost all of the energy we need, clean the environment and provide hundreds of millions in savings and revenue. From bio-mass, wind, sun and hydro, we can become prosperous, protect this beautiful region and offer a sustainable and secure future.