I recently had a high school friend visit and while watching the Olympics and having some beers, conversation turned to China (and the rest of the world). I know, I know, I’ve recently talked about the Olympics and China and such; But this is different. The conversation moved to energy and how it relates to national security, which I also have read about recently in a trade journal. Basically he brought up the astute point that renewable energy needs to be our number one priority in the coming years. We’re not talking 20 or 30 years…we’re talking 2 or 3. Really, it’s that important.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Let’s say America reduces its energy dependence and busts its hump to get renewable energy contributing to say 40% of the country’s need (imagine a breakthrough that would allow this). What happens next? Well, if it was overnight (which it wouldn’t be), oil demand and prices would more than likely fall overnight too. Not to worry, I’m sure somewhere along the way that the demand would be filled by large countries that manufacture goods and want some newly cheap energy. But what about (the) US? In succession, we’d be able to say “Goodbye! No Thanks! Don’t Need it anymore!” to: Iraq…Iran….Russia….Venezuela….and China (though we probably wouldn’t with China, they make our stuff, right?). Almost all of the conflicts the US has with other countries center around oil! I would imagine it’s not going to stop with these countries either. Oil will become the driving force behind global conflicts for years to come, followed only by the fight for potable water. So why not go over the oil barons’ heads and make our own energy and let the wind and sun give us all the power for free?
40% of energy coming from renewable energy? Does the US have the brainpower to achieve that? No, not unless just about every scientist and engineer was capable of dropping what they’re doing and shift all their focus to working on energy. But there’s tons of smart scientists and engineers all over the world. What a break! In fact, there are engineers already doing a lot of this renewable energy work already. So maybe we could achieve two things here…first, the US would get scientists to help develop energy solutions that would allow us to ignore the tyrants of the world; second, the US would continue to maintain our most important resource going to the future: intellectual capital.
For the past 100 years, the US has been a leader in technology because of its innovators. These best and brightest minds created everything from electronic building blocks to the computers in which they were utilized. And now we’ve seen not only jobs going overseas, but a lot of the best minds are popping up outside this country too. Not only that, a lot of the top minds are coming to the US to study and then following jobs home to their native countries. So another solution for the benevolent (or otherwise) forces in the world: lure them to the United States and claim them as our own. While intellectual capital may have been one of our greatest resources that is arguably losing ground to the rest of the world, the US still has something that many other countries do not. What other countries have Hollywood, New York City, Chicago, LA, National parks bigger than certain countries and so on and so forth? Where do people want to move for jobs and stay and live and raise families? I think that the US needs to utilize the drawing power of our entire country, our availability of opportunities and our lifestyles (whether people agree with the decadence of western culture or not).
The future of the world in regards to energy is very uncertain; the US will remain a world power only if we are able to recruit the best minds, keep them here and have them help to create a world run on renewable energy.