Change you must

I found a good article in the form of a recommendation to President Obama, called “Change you must” on the OilDrum, a good source as always.

The article stresses the imbalance between US consumption of fossil fuels and US production of tthe same. This imbalance has been escalating continuously over the last 40 years, and it has had (and still has) profound consequences.  Obviously, this imbalance can be translated into an enormous shift of capital from the US to the Middle East and other oil exporting regions. Expressed roughly, you could say that all development we have seen in the Middle East, good or bad, have been funded by US excess consumption of fossil fuels.

Isn’t it a paradox that the rise of Islamism has been funded by US oil thirst? The same Islamism which is perceived as the root of terror and a great threat to the US way of life?

The article goes on to highlight the areas where US policy makers need to take measures to decrease this thirst for (the globally diminishing reserves of) oil, starting with energy prices, fuel tax etc. It goes on by discussing energy efficiency.

It is interesting to note that the energy efficiency in the US is very low, as a consequence of the artificially low energy prices, kept for decades. If energy prices are gradually increased, it will stimulate investments in better energy efficiency. But the sad story is that this is a very long process. Shifting to a more efficient automotive fleet could be a process of 15 years. But that is the fastest area. More energy efficient buildings take much longer, since the lifespan of buildings are in the range 50-100 years.

But even more, most US cities are built based on a paradigm where energy should be very cheap. This has driven the development of a culture where cities are very low density, spread out along highways and with very poor alternative infrastructure. While European cities can scale up in rail based infrastructure and bicycles are becoming increasingly popular (and supported in the city infrastructure), this type of development is much more difficult in most US cities.

But there is no other way of course. President Obama, roll up your sleeves, because change you must.


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