Renewable Energy is Not an Ideological Issue

There is nothing ideological about the issue of renewable energy resources. Proponents tend to care about the health of the natural environment, which motivates their wish to see renewables replace high-polluting fuel sources like oil and coal, but the technologies, the fact of their economic viability and their usefulness for society at large, are not in any way a matter of ideology.

Neither is there anything ideological about the allegiance of some to carbon-based fuels. The considerations are entirely practical on all sides, and we need to remember this as we try to find consensus on how to move forward, responsibly, as a civilization, in terms of our relationship to energy and the environment.

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High-speed Rail Program Integral to Energy Overhaul

Pres. Barack Obama has proposed a national high-speed rail program that would develop eight to ten regions for high-speed rail (currently, only the so-called northeast corridor, running from Washington, DC, to Boston, through Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, has a regular high-speed service), as part of a phased-in long-term economic recovery plan. The rail project comes into play also as part of Obama’s plans for a comprehensive energy-sector overhaul, aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

The high-speed rail project is perhaps one of the least adequately reported components of both economic recovery and energy infrastructure overhaul plans, but one of the most vital and thoughtful. A successful implementation of 10 high-speed rail “regions”, in the most densely populated areas of the country, would provide a platform for major innovations in transport and energy sourcing.

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Big Oil Needs to Adjust to Non-fuel Long-term Business Model

The converging crises of carbon-induced climate destabilization and unsustainable transport-related costs and land-use are pushing global society toward a moment of major change, in which “fuel” as we know it will be less a matter of resourced-fuel combustion and more a matter of renewable clean electric power storage and delivery. The petroleum industry needs to adjust its business model to operate in a world where burning its prime resource is not the goal.

Until now, and even in the midst of the current ongoing energy debate, we are accustomed to viewing the onset of renewable energy sources and the interests of petroleum companies as diametrically opposed and politically incompatible. That idea is now easily seen as what it is: an ideological assumption based on a world-view informed by too few facts and too little understanding of complex interrelationships among resources, natural systems, and economic activity.

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