Money Talks Loudest

Those of us who have been beating the drum relentlessly about alternative energy wonder if there’s any likelihood that Americans will finally wake up and realize that we simply must tear ourselves away from fossil fuels — which are, after all, finite. We can, however, take some hope from a recent article about the rising costs of oil that makes the following point almost in passing:

With oil potentially getting that [expensive], we need to seriously consider the potential of seeing another energy source replace oil demand. In the past 23 years, gasoline prices and the price for a barrel of West Texas intermediate [oil] in the U.S. have traded at a multiple of roughly 33.1. Based on the OECD’s projections, this could mean that gasoline in the U.S. would cost somewhere in the range of $6.05 to $10.85. With current prices already causing a consideration of alternative fuels, $10 a gallon certainly would tip the scales in the favor of alternative sources.

What this means is that the factor which might finally wake people up to the folly of depending so much on oil at the risk of catastrophic damage to the environment is not the damage to the environment, per se. It’s the damage to the pocketbook. Americans are apparently willing to have their children breathe dirty air and choke on toxic water resulting from techniques such as fracking to get at the oil and gas and burning such make-believe substances as “clean coal.”  But they won’t stand for increasing prices at the gas pump. The major impetus for the development of alternative fuels in the end will almost assuredly be anger at rising oil and gas prices. These rising prices will lead Americans finally to electric or hybrid cars that burn less fuel and might even propel these folks to solar and wind energy in their homes when the price of heating and cooling fuels goes through the roof.

While one would like to think that people will do the right thing for the right reasons, in the end what matters is that they do the right thing — even for the wrong reasons. But given a self-absorbed population that refuses to modify its “life-style” in order to conserve precious resources and protect the earth one can find solace in the fact that at some point, before much longer, people will demand alternative fuels simply because they can’t afford to put gasoline in their cars or pay their heating bills. And I predict that at that point Big Oil and Coal companies will invest heavily in clean energy and claim it was what they wanted all along!


6 thoughts on “Money Talks Loudest

  1. People will complain about it, but the big wigs won’t do anything to change it all the while they are getting millions of pounds/dollars/yen/euros/rupees/goats for being the boss of the companies. They say “yes things have got to change” and then when nobodies listening say “over my dead body”

  2. I think you are missing the focus on this. The people have nothing to do with the oil dominance of this country, it is congress and the oil lobbyists who own them. We, will continue to be forced to pay ever increasing prices for our oil, even as the oil companies export it to other countries for their higher prices. if we want some of our own oil, we are thus forced to pay competitive prices for it. Exxon did not make all-time record profits because of it focus on alternative energy, BP could not easily afford its multi-billion dollar fines for the gulf disaster because of its cutesy advertisements supporting alternative energy. These are feel good ads only, and like every other oil company out there, as long as they own their congress persons, they are going to continue to blockade alternative energy. The Koch brothers are not only fighting the EPA, they are also fighting solar and wind energy.

    Alastar above, is correct.

  3. When gasoline hits $10.00 a gallon the scream will finally reach the ears of the politicians who will be forced to listen. I don’t disagree with you; I am simply suggesting that if a change ever does come about (and I think it will eventually) it will be for all the wrong reasons.

  4. Good post, Hugh. I think we need to show people and legislators that the business of alternative energy is appealing. I have been advocating to the GOP state legislator here, that the innovation around alternative energy is attractive to new business. The solar energy industry is getting closer each week and month to be able to stand on its own, but it still needs subsidy to get there. The Speaker of the House even noted in an article he was surprised that NC was the 5th leading and soon to be 4th leading state on solar energy. California is one of the largest solar producing “countries” in the world. The fossil fuel industry has done a nice job of trying to hide the success of the other indsutries. We need to celebrate the success of wind and solar and market them. Thanks, BTG

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