I sincerely wish that going forward we didn’t need to use fossil fuels ever again but that is not the case. We aren’t done with coal, gas, or oil quite yet. It is also essential that we keep trying to set America free from reliance on foreign energy resources, especially oil, because needing to keep other countries happy to insure our oil supply gives them leverage and it gives these same countries potential power to control our response to world events. Also, it is possible that we can use the pipeline as a bargaining chip to help keep the Republicans from insisting on cuts to “entitlements” before they will allow tax rates to go up.
We must accept, however, that we are walking a dangerous line between environmental catastrophes and our energy needs and this dilemma is becoming more and more obvious. Most of us accept that the climate changes we are seeing like the melting ice caps and the rising sea levels and the severe storms can be linked to burning fossil fuels and the levels of CO2emissions produced by that chemical process. Using combustion to produce mechanical energy will not work well for us for much longer unless we create domes to live under and move well away from coastlines.
Unfortunately we don’t have a great new source of energy waiting in the wings that will provide enough power to meet our energy needs. We have our little collection of problematic alternative energy sources: solar, wind, nuclear, maybe some thermal – each with pluses and minuses. Right now there are more minuses than pluses.
This is why I say we should go ahead with the Keystone Pipeline. I am not really in favor of the pipeline, but I believe they have agreed to change the route so that it doesn’t cut across Nebraska’s fresh water aquifer. It’s practically a done deal and a pipeline is not as bad a risk for our fresh water as drilling offshore or fracturing shale. Sad to say, unless something comes along, we will probably end up doing those also, but let’s wait until we’re desperate. Let’s also keep pushing for the toughest rules we can possibly get to force the energy industry to protect our fresh water (and even our oceans) and to keep CO2 emissions as low as possible.