Four Great Reasons to Quit Carbon Energy

No Matter Your Politics or Economics, Now is the Time

Energy Remains a Defining Element of Human Life

The ability to harness energy has been a defining qualify of human existence for a very long time. So much of what we know, do, and assume is based on harnessing energy. That is not going to change any time soon. More likely is that it will never change.

While I admire, and to at least some degree support, calls to minimize energy usage, it is most unlikely that we will economize our way out of the problems this posting highlights.  What we need is not less energy, but better energy. Fortunately, the options are are here and improving almost daily to make that happen.

The question is when will we, en masse, make the necessary changes to new energy sources? For a host of reasons, the answer should be today. The time is ripe on so many counts

What to Do About Oil, Coal & Gas Used to be a Left/Right Issue. No Longer.

There was a time when a discussion like this clearly separated on liberal vs conservative lines. That is increasingly not the case. The four factors discussed below are all beyond question and offer rational reasons to make the change, for all kinds of good liberal and conservative reasons.

Any one of these factors is more than adequate justification to finish the job of converting from carbon energy sources. Even if you question one or two of them (hint: you should not), any combination of the others is compelling reason enough to step up.

These are in no special order. They all are, in my view, Priority I matters for the future of our planet and our species, starting today. I even hesitate to use the word “future.” The future has arrived today. Let’s get to it.


At this point, the evidence that burning carbon is destroying our planet is overwhelming. The only question remaining is how vast and how fast the destruction is rolling in. Both poles are melting at a rate even the most concerned scientist would not have predicted a decade ago. Several factors are accelerating, and in doing so, accelerating still more effects.

Denying global climate change and its causes is simply no longer an option. Doing so at this point is willful ignorance and criminal negligence. You don’t have to be a liberal to decide that a stable climate, moderate weather, and survivable atmospheres are a good and necessary thing.

And that does not even include a discussion of the environmental and health costs of fires, ship ruptures, pipeline leaks, and other disasters in waiting with the movement and storage of carbon energy. Hear any disaster reports of “spills” from solar farms? Yeah, me neither.


Even as we are making progress in some sectors, we still burn a bunch of carbon every year – and that kills a lot of people. Deaths occur in high numbers all around the planet as people breath carbon contaminated air. We literally are killing innocents so we can have cars and electrified homes.

Given there are now alternatives, this is an immoral and, in the end, impractical choice not to make the needed changes. There is nothing theoretical in this. It is easily measurable to count the unnecessary deaths.How many lives are worth another coal plant?


We all know that carbon energy is expensive and volatile in pricing. If we assessed to it the health and environmental costs they cause, the numbers would go up still further dramatically. Yet, US tax policies still provide generous gifts to the carbon energy sector.

Last month, for the first time, renewable energy sources (wind and solar) provided more energy in the US than did coal and oil. This will not be the last time – it will become a trend. One reason for this trend is that the cost of alternative energy keeps getting lower. In most settings it now competes well, and often beats, carbon energy prices. We are entering the zone wherein healthier energy sources are also cheaper to produce and utilize.

Not only that, but the more modern energy technology generally has also much lower maintenance and operating costs than the old stuff. I bought a pair of combination electrical/hybrid cars a few years ago. I am still amazed at how low my operating costs are and how little maintenance they need compared to the gasoline burners I used to own.

Manufacturing costs for cleaner vehicles are getting ever better, and appropriate tax incentives make that an even better story. Good prices to purchase at, lower operating costs, less maintenance, ever spreading charging stations. What’s not to like?

National Security and Independence

So, how many times, one wonders, do we find ourselves and our friends hostages to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, or some other charming dictatorship, before we decide enough is enough? In earlier days, we had little choice. That is no longer the case.

We bought a little maneuvering time and space with expanding domestic production, but in due course came to understand that fracking gave us only a short delay between crises, and even that at unacceptable environmental costs.

Now we are at that game changer entry point for new technologies that Toffler described so well many years ago in Future Shock. With a modicum of political will, based largely on national security and independence, and smart investments in infrastructure, we could round the corner and never again rely on such n’er do wells.

 So, What Can I Do?

More than you might think.

First, do not waste any opportunity to talk up turning this page based on all four factors. Not all will appeal to everyone, but darn near everyone could see the advantages of any two or three of them as convincing.

Second, let your elected leaders and government officials know you see this as their primary responsibilities in serving their constituents. No more excuses.

Third, if you are thinking about buying a car in the next couple of years, make it electric. As little as 4-5 years ago, that was a stretch, with high costs up front and limited milage between charges. Both conditions are now just history and getting better as we go.

If your nerves will not take the plunge, at least go hybrid, but think long and hard – you can make that loop. Every vehicle we buy from this point on with a gasoline engine is a defeat for the world and a gift to the petroleum industry. Time to pick your friends for real.

          Bill Clontz

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