The Importance of Energy Literacy

(#286) – Driving through the rural landscape since winter arrived and tree foliage loss allows a closer look at the terrain, I have been struck by the very substantial increase in new power line poles.  I do not know whether this is scheduled maintenance to make our local power grid more reliable or amounts to an expansion in power distribution.  I do know it is important for all of us to know the answer, one which could be easily provided via the already existing communication systems.

We engage in very intense local advocacy about sources, increasing costs and negative effects about energy,  but do not have a shared understanding of the basics of energy literacy. Knowing about local and regional energy production, distribution and consumption is one of the most essential aspects of citizen responsibility.

A very brief summary of current energy facts include the following:

1)   Current energy policies and use is the single most important subject for our personal and national security and prosperity. Locally, economic develop- ment focusing on energy dense casinos and hydro racking for natural gas are two of the worst possible threats to our health and economy.

2)   Current production and consumption choices are unsustainable at any price for we are burning up tens of millions of years’ of fossil fuels in mere decades’.  There are no technical fixes or substitutes.

3)   By releasing billions of tons of carbon we are creating atmospheric conditions that resemble the pre-historic period of 650,000,000 years ago.

The result is the extinction of many species that provide valuable resources, death and mass suffering within the human community and a threat to our survival as a specie within a few generations time.

4)   We have overpowered the ability of the earth’s natural systems to sustain its stability and evolution.  The result is weather chaos, climate change that overpowers our ability to protect and provide for our safety, way of life, and economic sufficiency in the decades ahead.

5)   Reduction of energy use and renewable energy production, after several decades of development still lag in citizen, commercial and governmental preference. Radically reducing energy use of every kind and rapid development of affordable clean renewable energy can provide within a few decades 90% or more of the power we need.  By itself it will still not prevent the growing damage caused by green house gases.

6)   Corporate and financial power to make key energy decisions for society and their expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars propagandizing their profit-driven goals creates the energy illiteracy and misinformation that prevails in our society.  This must be stopped.

These basic choices and acts of citizens, government and commerce are terrific crimes against society and nature. The justice system has to date decided it will prosecute companies but largely leave individuals free of prosecution. The “get mine” attitude that prevails defeats the reality that community must always come first if there is to be sufficient social coherence provided by equitable relations rather than the costly, ugly, undemocratic society seen locally and nationally.

An essential fact of our lives is that becoming literate about what energy is, current and alternative impacts on planetary and personal health, prosperity and safety is one of the top subjects for increased literacy.

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