Friday, May 24, 2013

Changing the Norm

My husband and I got the chance this week to attend the national premier of Gasland 2, a film about fracking (hydraulic fracturing). Since the first film five years ago, much has happened in Illinois in this area. Leases are being signed in the Shawnee National Forest, companies have approached my county about fracking here, and the Illinois legislature has bills before it to ban fracking and to allow it with a minimum amount of regulatory oversight. You can guess which groups support each of these measures I’m sure.

But whether or not I think this should go on in the state or the world is not what I want to talk about. It’s what led us to this point that I am interested in exploring. The consumerism, feelings that it is your right to use whatever resources you want without consequence, desire for cheap goods and services, desire to live the lifestyle Americans live, etc. : all of these things work together to lead energy companies to look for the next boom in the energy supply. First it was steam and wood, then coal, oil, nuclear, and now the big one is natural gas. All of these things made these companies rich at the expense of people, ecosystems, communities, countries, and the entire planet.

There has to be a better way and there is. It is more difficult than I will make it sound here due mostly to politics, lobbying and money, but renewable energy technologies have been proven to be able to readily supply the world’s energy needs. Between wind, solar, and hydro-power, there is enough supply to exceed the current demands when used together. Add to those: geothermal, wave technology, biogas, bio-fuels, and others and you have a diverse and capable range of energy sources.

So why not? Why not build up the energy grid over the next 5 years and develop these resources and change things over? A lot depends on us. How we consume affects more than how much garbage we make. Our lives are connected to more than our little bubble and every seemingly insignificant decision can have a butterfly effect to many other things including the energy booms and busts.

I know this is a heavy topic for a Friday but someone has to say it right? We have made many strides toward good environmental stewardship since the first Earth Day and there is no reason to stop now.

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