The Journey to the Age of Renewable Energy

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.”

–Taken from President Obama’s inaugural speech, 1/21/2013

I took a break from work on Monday to watch President Obama give his second inaugural speech. Four years ago, my husband and I ventured out into the masses—we left super early and managed to secure a spot way down behind the Washington Monument. Now that we have a two-year-old, we decided against it this time!

In the comfort of my own home, I heard the President say “the path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.” At that moment, I recalled reading an article in the Energy Tribune a couple years back “Wood to Coal to Oil to Natural Gas and Nuclear: The Slow Pace of Energy Transitions” in which the author argues we are a long ways away from escaping the Age of Coal and Oil.

When I read this article, I remember feeling irked that the environmental impacts of removing billions of barrels of oil and millions of pounds of coal from the earth over a short and/or long period time were never mentioned. After re-reading again two years later, I’m still miffed.

Irked-ness aside, I encourage you to give the article a read. The history of energy consumption in America since the 1700s is fascinating. It demonstrates that while it seems as though renewable energy sources are barely hanging by a thread, it took decades for the U.S. to move from one energy source to the next. Even now, we’ve got a varied mix nation-wide. [See]

I fully expect that within my lifetime, we’ll see renewable energy sources catch up and run neck-and-neck with coal and oil, maybe even surpass it. While coal and oil (and now, natural gas) seems too big and powerful (and cheap) to pass up, as Obama said, we “cannot resist the transition” to renewable energy sources. If we can’t resist or ignore it, then we may as well lead the way to a more sustainable energy future for this country and the world, even if it takes a couple decades and precious tax dollars to finally realize the Age of Renewable Energy.


Charis works at MOMs Central Office.

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