Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Let's bring back Jimmy Carter's 1970s call for less energy consumption

Seems like there is no talk, from Biden or any major politician these days, about conservation. Using less gasoline which may be the best way; especially in the short run, to bring the price down. Supply and demand.

In some ways, I miss my college days during the Carter Presidency. Carter was pushing everything from walking more to turning down (or up in summer) the thermostat. It was a time when we thought we could pull together and make a difference. In many ways, life seems more jaded today.

Things were different back then. The price of gasoline was more regulated so while there were price hikes, the lack of supply was manifested in actual gas shortages. Long lines at gas stations. Odd even rationing based on licence plate number, the 55 mile per hour speed limit, which may have done more to save lives than gas, but it was the law of the land for years.

Carter did have long term goals to increase domestic production. Mining oil shale, coal gasification. The Carter Synfuels program. He also pushed alternative energy.

Back then, the US was hopelessly dependent on oil imports.

Since then, Republican thinking has prevailed. Price controls have been eliminated letting the marketplace regulate supply and demand through price, rather than regulation and rationing. Due to advanced technology, in oil drilling, there has been a miraculous increase in domestic oil production over the past few decades. America is far less dependent on oil imports while gasoline consumption has still risen dramatically to meet our increased, population, prosperity and sprawl.

Still, I miss the days when politicians tried to get people to consume less.

Consuming less would take pressure off supply and bring prices down in the shortrun. In the longrun, oil fracking our way to increased production is problematic due to climate change. Or, maybe we can use another miracle technology; geo engineering to artificially cool the earth? I wouldn't count on that. We will need clean energy sources such as solar and hydrogen fusion.

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