Getting Beyond a Fossil Fuel Culture

A reader, responding to my 14 May post “Two Sides …” vented some real anger at our fossil fuels culture. ‘Guitars-and-More’ said:

Burning Fossil Fuels:

1. Keeps us in the Middle East spending trillions of dollars on fifty years wars.
2. Causes health problems such as heart disease and lung disease
3. Creates spiraling health care costs rising out of sight.
4. Pollutes streams, destroys forests, destroys wildlife, removes mountains.
5. Leaves the USA dependent on the whims of foreign governments that hate us.
6. Sends money back to countries that finance international terrorism.
7. Causes huge destructive fluctuations in our economy when gas goes way up.
8. Requires dangerous mining and drilling resulting in frequent deaths.
9. Requires delivery via ships and trucks that pollute and use additional resources.
10. Subject to spills which are difficult, expensive, and often impossible to clean up.
11. Contributes to global climate change

There’s plenty of room to quibble over details of Guitars-and-More’s accusations, but the real challenge is “How do we get beyond fossil fuels?” And the simple answer is “It ain’t easy, it ain’t cheap, and it won’t be quick.”

1. BIG taxes on gasoline and other fossil fuels, to give alternative sources a price umbrella under which they can survive. Collected funds go to alternative energy infrastructure development.
2. BIG tax on car milage. Drive a fuel efficient car, pay a lower rate; drive a gas guzzler (even if you think it’s safer or more comfortable), pay an astronomical rate. Collected funds go to R&D and science education.
3. BIG permanent subsidies for alternative energy, BIG tax penalties for conventional energy. Again, reinvest the funds in education, research and seed projects.
4. Be willing to pay – and to convince your family, friends and colleagues – to happily pay the higher prices that will absolutely be required to finance the transition to non-fossil fuels.
5. Have a lot of patience, because science, engineering and investment on this scale will take many years to accomplish.


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