energy framing

December 1, 2010

Last night i attended a Deepwater symposium at Stanford. The key lead speaker started with two slides. First, growht in population from a few hundred yars back to 2050. There wil be nine billion (he added another half with 9.5 to dive home the point he will make), and we need to match the energy needs of thisppulation. Second slide, energy use vs income. Up. By country. China, India and Brazil low on both, but with the “obvious” rajectory. hence more energy demand. This rhetorical trick, assuming at the beginnign without question the most questionable assumption, even survived the questions, when I asked “If you make this assertion, that we must meet deman, then you are assuming the demand is a force of nature, not something we can do anything about. How did we get into thisn tratp? Whose Urgency? He answred. “Oh I agree and that is why we must do everything we can, with new forms of energy, new ways of manufacturing, sowe can meet the required doubling of energy. after all, enregy is the world’s system.”

My view is that this rhetoric numbs people because it is so elementary and they get awway with it, as every Exxon or Shell Ad on Npr asserts “we need clean energy to meet future demand.”

We need honest open discussions about lowering demand, reframing the economy, make tough decisions. Ending up with tougher regulations, run by a commision drawwn from government and business (and the gov people come from business for a large part), whose purpose is to facilitate drilling back inthe gulf, gets in the way of the serious discussions we need about the finacne system, the corporation system, the weird dependency on growth as if our life depended on it.

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