Last week, I attended a presentation by Pierre-Olivier Pineau, a professor at HEC Montreal who specializes in energy policy. He delivered a presentation entitled “The Energy Non-Crisis.” His basic thesis is that the current state of global energy consumption does not meet the definition of a crisis. He asserts that at our current rates of consumption we could survive for at least a century, and thereby there is no immediate need to curb usage of non-renewables.
Obviously, and I believe intentionally, this perspective excludes a number of critical arguments, not the least of which being rising rates of demand across the developed and undeveloped world and the environmental impacts of our energy habits. He does this to establish a bookend perspective. One (untenable) position is that we maintain the status quo. The other (unlikely) position is that the world wakes up tomorrow with the political and economic will to dramatically and materially change the way energy is produced and consumed.
The net effect this has is to open up the middle ground, and allow the rest of us to debate exactly what the appropriate actions to take are. For our generation, this question is particularly poignant. 100 years seems like a long way off, but when we turn 65, this will become an immediate concern.
For the most part, we say all the right things. We research new technologies, we talk about reducing our carbon footprints, and we chide our parents about the gas-guzzling minivans they drove carpool in when we were young. But what can we do to have an impact beyond our small spheres of influence? How do we expand our scopes to the communities around us?
I believe that the way to affect change is by engaging actively in the political process, working with our elected representatives to develop an implement meaningful change. Ultimately, we will be in a position to become those elected representitives, and will hopefull be campaigning to a more educated and concerned population. I suspect, however, that many of my peers disagree with this, and feel that politics is an old man’s game with no real impact. So what does everyone out there think? How can generation Y, on the cusp of self-sufficiency, drive our respective communities to take action while energy is still a “non-crisis”?