For obvious reasons, most discussions of energy policy among liberals focus on climate change. We almost think of energy policy as a subset of climate policy. This is a mistake, IMO, especially since we may be in the middle of a revolution in energy production in the United States. If certain new energy sources and extraction methods pan out, they could give us more time to deal with climate change – or they could lull us into a false sense of energy security and make it even harder to get public support for a transition to renewable sources.
I don’t know much about this subject. But, we could be near a game changer in energy policy, at least in terms of energy security. On Monday, I’ll summarize the major arguments that we are in the beginning of a major energy transition, and then outline some of the problems this could still entail (nothing is ever all to the good). Asking whether we can achieve energy “independence” is not really the right question, from what I read. but, it’s a good starting point to talk about the topic.
Discussion Questions –
- What new sources and means of energy production are people all excited about? How sure are we that any of these really are viable?
- What if they are? What are the implications for businesses and consumers, for climate and foreign policies, and for the future?
- These new sources and methods all concern fossil fuels. What about the future of renewables? Are major technological breakthroughs near for them, too? Would breakthroughs in fossil fuel production help or hinder renewable industries?
- San Diego is about to make a major decision on the future of its energy needs. What is that all about and what’s at stake?
- We may never run out of oil (or, more accurately, out of oil and gas). A must-read Atlantic Monthly cover story.
- A direct rebuttal to the whole article, and one rebutting just the methane hydrate-will -be-the-next-big-energy-source thesis.
- [Update: Methane hydrate could be catastrophic for climate change – if the methane gas leaks too much from the pumping operation.]
- Another: The death of peak oil has been greatly exaggerated. (Click through to the article cited for a more detailed argument.)
- Also, please read at least one of these two articles that offer some more balanced explanations of our new energy opportunities.
- Optional long and detailed read: A 2012 CBO report on achieving energy independence.
- [Update II: This is what I mean by asking whether can we be energy independent asking is the wrong question.]