Energy Interdependence

iStock_000005768889XSmall.jpgI spent a long evening yesterday taking in the Republican Convention. The political message seemed to be very simple--divide and conquer. At least now we have a pretty clear choice ahead in November. But this is not a political blog. Even so, it is often very difficult to separate sustainability from politics and last night offered such an example.

Among the many foot-stamping pauses during Sarah Palin's speech and those that preceded her on the podium, one of the loudest and most prolonged followed her invocation of "drill, baby, drill" and a long string of just about every form of energy supply technology, except for conservation. It was not just about keeping warm or filling up at the pump with cheap gas, it was all about independence, and that's the topic I want to comment on.

One key to sustainability is to accept that the world is complex; we are interdependent on each other. Independent entities, people or states, cannot survive disconnected from the world. We, here in the USA, and every other human being living today and arriving in the future depend on the Earth's resources. Not just ours in a nationalistic sense, but all that we inherited from the geological upheavals that gifted us all our fossil fuel resources and just about everything else we rely on. A politics that reduces complicated and complex issues to simplistic technofixes is part of the conditions that create unsustainability whether it is manifest in climate change or human suffering. And in this particular case, this strategy is bound to be fruitless. If we were to exploit all the energy resources within our national boundaries, we would still need to rely on the kindness of strangers to live the kind of life we do today.

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