We Need Some Sort of Energy Compromise
Newly proclaimed “Willy Wonka of crypto” Elon Musk recently made headlines again with his drastic 180-degree turn against Bitcoin—his reasons being its mass energy consumption and fossil fuel production. He said Tesla would pause its acceptance of the digital currency until it cleaned up its act. Some people may incredulously ask, “Why don’t they simply stop using fossil fuels and move to clean energy?” But to reduce energy to either petroleum or an alternative is to leave viable solutions on the table. We don’t need a constant argument of one versus the other; we need both.
Fossil fuels have sustained the economy for as long as we can remember. Since the advent of fracking, the United States has been more flexible geopolitically because we are basically oil independent. Still, it’s probably wise to move on from petroleum to a more renewable and clean energy source. For years, even big companies such as BP have already rebranded as “beyond petroleum,” and they have a fundamental understanding that we are moving toward a post-petroleum economy.
We can’t blame Musk for distancing himself from fossil fuel; he’s a money man. It makes economic sense to move on to cleaner alternatives. And there are already many existing successes. Yes, we’d be remiss to omit the fact that they couldn’t keep the power on in Texas, home to one of the most successful wind farms in the world. But this clean energy is a great way to supplement the existing and vibrant petroleum-based economy of Texas, which is the case all over the country.
A promising development is electric cars, which lessen petroleum dependency and move toward a world where we don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars per month on gasoline. The electric vehicle market is going mainstream, but as this alternate reality has yet to exist, we can’t pull a hard stop on fossil fuels. Electric vehicles can’t suddenly bear the burden of the world’s transportation energy. We still have to charge those cars, which will require a great deal of infrastructure all over the country. And it’s not as convenient. A gas tank can be refilled in a few minutes. But at a DC fast charging station, a full charge takes 30 minutes to an hour, according to Automotive World. That doesn’t mean electric vehicles are inherently bad. In fact, Tesla’s been great, and it’s great to have an American car company innovating and disrupting the sector. Most of us would like a Tesla and are interested in where that company’s going. But that doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly the solution to our problems.
So, we need a compromise between our resources. And in this case, the government can take the lead. But where one side would answer with federal mandates, that’s not the most sustainable answer. We could encourage the administration to act in an environmentally responsible way, taking the path of incentivization over regulation. The energy debate—and any sort of environmental debate—revolves around that. It’s too hard to regulate everything; it’s a lot easier to incentivize good behavior. We currently have tax incentives for electric cars and solar panels. And Musk created his own incentive: Tesla won’t accept Bitcoin until there’s a change.
People are talking about solutions to the climate problem, such as taking carbon out of the air. These are bridge technologies that we need for the time being, and the world’s brightest minds are working toward more sustainable models. But in the meantime, we have to figure out the quickest way to gracefully exit the petroleum economy without causing mass disruption or heavy regulation. A common sense and balanced approach around energy would behoove us all.
The Green Revolution has already begun: Governments, corporations and we the people are moving toward a new economy that’s more sustainable, adaptable and sensible.
David Grasso is the host of the Follow the Profit Podcast, where he shares simple ideas for financial success and lessons learned the hard way. He is also the CEO of Bold TV, Inc, a nonprofit media company dedicated to entrepreneurship and cultural empowerment.