The Real Energy Crisis: We Use too Much

September 28, 2009

Fossil fuels will eventually run out.  And they contribute to global warming and pollution anyway.  So we need renewable energy sources.  We have some pretty fantastic ideas with solar power, wind power, alternative fuels, and more–they offer real and exciting potential.  But there are problems with all of them.  They are expensive.  They often take up a lot of space.  They aren’t without their own sustainability questions.

We’ve got to do something, though, and we have to do something quickly, because forecasts predict terrible forest fires, stronger storms, rising temperatures, disappearing islands, and more endangered species.  I don’t even understand this El Nino thing (it stands for “the nino” for those of you who don’t speak Spanish), but I know enough to be a bit worried about it.  It seems we are investing so much time and money into doing something drastic that we have forgotten about the smallest, easiest, and cheapest step we can take.  Use less energy.

If you’ve ever, as I think we all have, had that moment when you think “we’re screwed,” then you’ve also thought of changes you can make.  “I can recycle,” you say, or “I can ride public transit” or “I can buy sustainably-produced and local food.”  Yes, you and I can do all of those things, and if only we had money we could replace our old appliances with energy-efficient appliances.  We could buy solar panels (maybe even enough to produce energy for one of our neighbors as well).  We could buy hybrid or electric cars.  Even the government is helping us with many of these.

But I wonder if the only real solution is not using electricity.  Think about that–I know it’s sounds uncomfortable, and it requires some serious life changes.  Is it the only solution, though?  I’m asking.  I’m thinking out loud.  Because with little effort and maybe a little money, I can light my house with olive oil lamps.  I can wash all of the dishes and clothes by hand.  I can heat my home and cook with a wood stove (okay, that might require a bit more money and effort), but these are legitimate thoughts, and they all seriously reduce my ecological footprint.  I’m very aware of the difficulty involved with these, as I’ve done zero of them, but I can’t shake these thoughts.

So for now, as I consider these things, I’m aware that I can always make more changes.  I’m also pretty sure that the production of electricity is always going to exact a toll on the environment (does that answer my question?), and if I don’t eliminate my use of it, I can certainly work towards that and reduce my use.

We need to make changes, and we need to consider serious changes.  Nearly all of us are taught from an early age to leave any space we occupy better than how we found it.  I do hope that I am able to leave this a better place.  So in order to pursue that goal, below are some practices we can adopt.  I encourage you to try these as well as contribute your own ideas to the effort.  Understand that none of these is a new idea (in fact, many are quite old), but they are all feasible.

Supplement lighting with olive oil lamps (visit Mother Earth News for guidance)
Hang dry clothes
Turn the thermstat down (and wear more clothing)
Walk to the store
Ride the bus

Please offer your ideas.  Again, these are things that have been done, so I realize I’m not starting any sort of revolution, but your old ideas might become my new ideas.


One Response to “The Real Energy Crisis: We Use too Much”

  1. rubberdragon said

    Yes, agree with you that we should use less energy, but of course we all need some heating in our homes, I’m looking into how wood burning stoves make a difference.

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