(2) Invest in an Unlimited, Renewable Resource
Clean energy is pollution-free, infinitely renewable, and can be easily produced domestically, reducing the demand for foreign oil.
Since sunlight and wind are available everywhere and can be harvested for energy almost anywhere, nations, states, and communities can produce their own energy for their own use. In fact, some scientists estimate that renewable sources alone could potentially produce almost 118 times the amount of electricity the nation currently consumes.
This is not an idealistic fairy tale. Many studies have shown that energy independence is viable. The Solutions Project, an initiative of Stanford University, developed one such model for achieving 100% clean energy generation across the entire U.S. by 2050. The Project’s overview of Pennsylvania indicates that about 80% of Pennsylvania’s energy can be produced by wind and solar farms, with the remainder produced by on-site residential and commercial solar PV arrays and geothermal or hydroelectric power stations.
In recent years, the world has seen a disturbing rise in the overuse of natural resources—a trend first established by the U.S. and other western powers during the mid-to-late Industrial Era, a time when we believed our resources to be inexhaustible. Though we may look back now with regret, for most of the nations of the world, the ironic truth is that heavy resource use and rapid industrialization is the only way to make it onto the world stage.
In this way, we have set a very negative example for the rest of the world. If everyone lived as Americans do, we would need four earths’ worth of resources to support our lifestyle. In many of these rapidly-developing countries, the consumer demand for energy is skyrocketing; from 2005 to 2013, China built about 765 new coal-fired power plants and is expected to build many more in the next few years. These plants burn about four billion tons of coal per year. Delhi India’s electricity demand grew at a similarly alarming rate, more than doubling in just nine years, further straining the amount of fossil fuels the nation imports.
This forced dependence, with some nations having to heavily depend on others for both resources and economic assistance has been a major source of conflict throughout the globe in the last century alone. And, with the rising tensions and severity of deadly conflict in resource-rich areas, particularly the Middle East, one is hard-pressed to expect our “business as usual” approach to last much longer.