I’m one of those people who constantly tries to see into the future – not that I have any eerie talent for things like that. The future of energy and transportation, for example, is clear as a bell. Does anyone think we’re going to be driving Hummers in 40 years? Could a reasonable person believe there’ll be plenty of cheap oil in 2050 when the world population has increased 22% from today and the number of cars on the world’s roads has doubled?
Alternative energy will become a reality; that’s not in question. The question is: who’s going to get rich in the process?
Here’s a fact: the people who made the last fortune in energy (1910 – 2010) want to make damn sure they’ll be the ones to do it again.
And here’s my prediction: Unless something unforeseen and incredibly dramatic happens, that’s precisely what’s going to happen. Here are some details, lest you think I’m one of these tawdry fortune-tellers who speaks in fortune-cookie generalities:
Alternative energy will take an eternity to get here. We (in the US) will find a way to delay the establishment of an energy policy for an inconceivably long period of time, while the biosphere continues its path of slow but rapidly accelerating degradation.
Those of us who have worked to make clean energy happen in a timely fashion will eventually be crushed like grapes financially, caused by 10-or-so different types of government subsidies that make oil artificially cheap and renewable energy uncompetitive with fossil fuels. Eventually, most of us will be gone; they will have made it rain longer than we could tread water. In posterity, we’ll come to be regarded as pathetic “do-gooders” or quaint, historic relics, “regrettably ahead of their time.”
But finally (presuming we still have a planet that supports life, with a bit of clean water to drink, etc.) when the energy giants have determined how they can dominate this new landscape, we’ll have abundant clean energy, generated and delivered profitably and without undue competition — and the traditional energy people will have succeded in their quest to make their next great fortune.
Oh, but what’s this I see? Is there, in fact, something unforeseen and incredibly dramatic that might happen? A grassroots uprising? People as furious with our lame approach to energy as they were to the Vietnam War 40 years ago? Henry Kissinger said recently, “If it weren’t for the loathing that the common American had for the war, we’d still be there.” I suppose public outcry actually could make a difference ….
But …. oh, rats. The crystal has gone dark. That’s all for now.
Sorry to be a bit indecisive, but I see a future that could go either way. Perhaps what the crystal is telling me is that our energy future is not a matter of fate. Rather, it lies in our own hands.