Fueling a superpower on more than fumes

By Lee Feder

Many times over I have used this space to explain why the United States needs to rewrite its energy policy. Despite the statement on our currency that we are “E pluribus unum,” Americans are in the midst of committing a tragically heroic decision. While high gas prices are blunting our current economic strength, they are merely a harbinger of, and a guiding beacon for, the future. In order to avoid the fate that nearly every other historical power has met, we must eliminate nearly all oil consumption and shift emphasis from a fossil fuel based economy to a renewable-based one.

While the majority are aware of the necessity of eliminating foreign oil imports as well as the harmful effects of CO2, the general knowledge does not fully encompass the short- and long-term global strategy behind adjusting our energy needs. First, “going green” eliminates our dependency on the oil rich and democracy poor nations in the Middle East. Europe often questions American allegiance to Israel; if we cannot loyally support those whom freedom has inspired, to whom shall we give our allegiance? Similarly, the U.S. obviously invaded Iraq with oil somewhere in the calculus. The last major power oil war was a blazing failure for the aggressor, which resulted in one of the most energy efficient economic powerhouses on the planet (think Japan). Freeing ourselves of oil frees ourselves of the foreign policy shackles in which we are bound.

Second, embracing Al Gore’s renewable energy plan will energize the American economy in the same way that the Internet revitalized Clintonian America. With all the energy consumed worldwide, and all that about to be burned by China and Japan, countries will have no lack of demand for efficient, renewable, independent, and cost-effective energy. If our industries are incapable of devising such technologies, then the U.S. has already fallen from the graces of superpower. Moreover, if the American populace has lost its willingness to make sacrifices in the name of sustaining national pride, then we have become a nation of greed and are no longer one of patriotic sacrifice.

Finally, as a nation that prides itself on its moral values, the U.S. is hypocritically immoral in its treatment of public goods. There are external costs of doing business that we are unwilling to tax; there are consequences for the carbon-intensive American lifestyle that transgress most interpretations of scripture. In what Biblical script verse does the United States have the sole power to consume more than its fair share of natural resources with reckless abandon? From where does our moral imperative to lead emanate if not from our own righteous actions?

The fundamental truths of energy policy are that it does not solely relate to how efficient cars are; the consequences are global and the time scale is immaterial. The U.S. must refine its attitude towards energy for no other reason than if it does not, it will no longer be the dominant world power.

Lee is a recent graduate who thanks his editor Andrew Mason for his help and guidance over the past 1.5 years and wishes him the best of luck in all his endeavors.