Energy Wherever You Are

Russia recently fired a shot that landed outside the border of Ukraine: pipes carrying gas to Poland and Bulgaria, two of Ukraine’s staunchest allies, have been shut off for refusal to remit payment in rubles. Leaders of other European countries who have sent weapons and support to Ukraine fear that they’ll be affected next.

I have no idea how long the economies of European countries could stand up without energy that’s currently supplied by Russia’s kleptocrats. I hope we don’t have to find out, as the consequences for the American economy would be profound as well.

Russia’s decision to shut off the pipes suggests that sanctions against Russia have begun to pinch. The decision also indicates a broadening of the Ukrainian conflict. No modern economy can survive without energy. When food can’t be refrigerated, when there’s no HVAC functioning in high rises and hospitals, when people can’t commute to work, will they get desperate enough to want to fight?

Russia has engaged the rest of the world in a high-stakes game of chicken. Either live with Russian autocrats who quash free speech and invade other countries to extend their realm influence, or be prepared to deal with less access to energy.

When OPEC tightened the supply of oil provided to the United States in the 1970s, we responded with regulations that demanded greater fuel efficiency in cars, we eased environmental controls over drilling, and we began to fund alternative energy R&D more aggressively. However, when the OPEC crisis ended, two of those three responses fell by the wayside.

Wouldn’t America be a better place now if we had access to more sustainable energy sources? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have our economy held hostage by reliance on energy from kleptocrats? Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn at least one lesson from history?

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20 Responses to Energy Wherever You Are

  1. Bill Arnoldus says:

    America would be a better place now if we had access to more sustainable energy. But investing in this sustainable energy would take a lot of money and probably hike prices of things like gas and oil that we so desperately rely on currently. If the government and its people decide to play the long game and invest in sustainable energy sources it will also have to suffer from the short term economic recessions it causes and find work arounds of the energy systems currently in place. It would be nice to have our economy not be held hostage by foreign kleptocrats but the how is a big problem. The shtik is, America needs what other countries has and is willing to pay for it. If Africa decided to stop sending us its precious metals then America has little ways of replacing them, if Russia decided to stop sending us raw resources then we have little ways of replacing them. The ways America gets what it wants is by having good relations with the countries it depends on, and now that that is not an option, what other options do we have?

  2. India White says:

    Of course, America would be a better place if we had access to more sustainable energy and we did not have rely on the shady politics of other countries. However, I do not believe that America could ever completely ween off things like gas and oil and rely completely on sustainable energy because, as of now, I do not see that as enough energy to power American life at the same level it is currently powered. Be that as it may, America and other European countries are at a crossroad: we can either learn from history and put doing what is right before our own needs and gains, or we could be bullied into staying out of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and conduct business as usual with Russia. It would be nice if our economy was not being held hostage by kleptocrats, but if we were to take the long route and invest money and time into developing and mass producing sustainable energy our economy would still be in turmoil. As Bill stated gas and oil prices would probably increase, not to mention that we do not currently have mass production for sustainable energy so what would we do until then? These ideas sound good and are nice in theory but are they really practical?

  3. Gordon Welch says:

    If America would use resources including nuclear, solar, and wind energy. Then, the fear of Russia taking away our resources would be nearly diminished. When you can control your resources during a time of standoff between other countries. Then, you can be in control of a war. If it wasn’t wasn’t for the resources that Russia had, they never would’ve become a global power.

  4. Andrew Liu says:

    America would definitely benefit from sustainable energy sources rather than relying on non-renewable fuels such as oil. However, developing these technologies is expensive, and there are also many infrastructural issues. For example, solar panels, which use the sun as an energy source, take up a lot of space for the amount of energy produced. They also do not work when there is no sunlight, i.e. at night or in cloudy weather. Like Bill said, the United States would suffer economically if it were to quickly and entirely transition to sustainable energy. It would solve the problem of the energy being held hostage by opposing powers, as they cannot turn off the sun or stop the wind, but it would take a toll initially on the country’s economy. Moving forward, with companies like Tesla paving the way for sustainable energy in transportation, the United States and the world could eventually be run entirely with renewable energy.

  5. Laya Karavadi says:

    It clearly is a win-win situation for the US and Earth itself. We would be living off of our own sustainable energy, not fearing that Russia might take it away, and we are not harming our planet. However, it would be extremely expensive to change all of our energy sources. I believe a slow transition is the best way for the US to efficiently reach a better and sustainable life. When thinking of the end goal in mind, it seems like the best option.

  6. Hong Zheng says:

    The United States would definitely be better off with more sustainable energy sources but if it was that easy to achieve, then why has it not happened yet? Simply put, sustainable energy sources are hard to achieve because of the process, inconvenience, and the cost of making them. For example, wind energy requires substantial amount of fossil fuels to make its components (more fossil fuels than the energy it would ever produce). Nuclear energy is an amazing and reliable substanable energy source, but it has major risks that could make an entire island radioactive. Hydro energy can be disruptive to ecosystems. While in the long run, sustainable energy sources are definitely the way to go, currently it is very difficult to make that transition. Especially since the cost to produce is so much higher than the benefits returned.

  7. Jeremy Dawe says:

    All countries would be in a better position with complete control over their own energy, which can be achieved through sustainable energy sources. However, sustainable energy sources can also be harmful to the environment or not cost effective. For example, the blades on a wind turbine need to be replaced about every 20 years, creating massive amounts of trash. While nuclear energy is clean and cheap to run, it has been hindered by accidents such as chernobyl and three mile island. These complications make it difficult to gain energy independence from fossil fuels, and the countries that control their availability.

  8. Cali Orman says:

    The idea of more sustainable energy is easier than actually obtaining sustainable energy. It is expensive and a huge commitment from everyone. Although “sustainable energy” can be good for the environment it can also have some unintended consequences that are not worth the trouble of instituting that type of energy. Being in control of your own energy supply is the safest way to support a country because in the case that a war broke out you would not have to worry about other countries using energy as leverage. But fostering a mutualistic trade of resources with other countries could be good because it would encourage peace between you. Neither country can rely fully on themselves so they will be prompted to work with each other.

  9. Arika Gardner says:

    Sustainable energy is a great idea, and not that hard to execute either. Many companies are now installing solar panels and wind turbines to produce safer energy. If we could convert to using natural renewable energy then America wouldn’t have to worry about resources being cut off because of international disputes and wars. While there are many perks to trade and we do need trade to sustain our country’s economic flow and our high demand in products, energy should be a resource that can be self provided .

  10. James says:

    While I believe that we would be better off if we had more sustainable energy, the steps necessary to obtain this energy come off as illogical. People are scared to start the transition to sustainable energy. I’m no expert, but I suspect that if we begin the progress, while it may be a very long process, the process itself won’t be as bad as we expect

  11. As a country and planet, we can definitely benefit from incorporating the use of more renewable energy sources. Our dependence on the Russian oil industry is a sticky situation, however. There has been much debate on the possibility of being able to sustain everyday life with other alternatives. While this idea of being free of any ties with kleptocrats and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions would benefit the country greatly, realistically, this is not going to become a reality anytime soon. Hopefully, throughout history, we will see improvement and at least one lesson to be learned from this.

  12. Elliot Mathers says:

    Of course it would be great if we were not controlled by oil but it seems our politicians are driven by money. If Americas politicians were actually looking to benefit the world they would instate laws that limit the power of company’s and make energy more secure and efficient but we live in a corrupt world where money mostly reigns.

  13. Sustainable energy is the only answer to having a future. Climate change is extremely real and can destroy the world. While I understand that energy is a concern in politics, the egregious environmental impacts should be a relevant topic in every household. Politicians should begin to cut down on fossil fuel consumption and implement renewable energy sources in lower-income cities. Jobs could be created from this new wave of renewable, sustainable energy. Hawaii made the decision to try to reach self-sustainability soon. If a small island can fuel its people, the mainland of America can as well. I believe that self-sustainable is the way to a better future.

  14. Nicholas Popescu says:

    Along with the vast majority of countries, America would benefit economically and politically from heavy investment in renewable energy sources. This would nearly erase American reliance on countries with non-renewable energy hubs. Furthermore, such non-renewable energy could no longer be used as a political weapon, as seen in Ukraine. Disregarding the political aspect, renewable energy sources diversify the American energy supply, eliminating monopolistic oil and fossil fuel tycoons. While powerful renewable energy businesses will inevitably emerge, the variety of fuel sources helps variegate the renewable energy scene.

  15. Aaron+Sharp says:

    Since America is a deeply capitalist society, whatever is best for the money is usually what ends up happening. Thus far, that has been the use of non-renewable energy sources. They’re cheaper to harness, and so they’re used more. The government tries to fund some projects to promote renewable energy but often times the people in power use non-renewable energy themselves, so they are against renewable energy methods.

  16. Claire Ellison says:

    Yes, it would be amazing if America did not have to rely on other countries and be in better control of resources. However, creating independence from countries requires even more money and effort. To create a truly eco-friendly source of energy, America would have to put years into research and a countless amount of money to see true success. Solar and wind energy comes from making equipment that is terrible for the environment. The easier solution is to trade with other countries and take the easy path, which is what will always be chosen.

  17. Everett "CJ" Mason, Jr. says:

    Sustainable and more efficient energy sources will be the only way that our planet will be able to make it many more years. Without making efforts to obtain better energy sources, not only will our planet’s ecosystem degrade rapidly, but humans will be forced to live in increasingly horrible conditions. However, capitalism almost always wins in America. In the eyes of corporate greed, renewable energy sources simply are not as advantageous as fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources. The move towards better energy sources needs to be made, but it is unlikely that it will come anytime soon.

  18. Brianna Moore says:

    The future relies on the ability to discover and successfully implement sustainable resources. Renewable energy, however, is a global effort. A country can become entirely self-sustainable, but, if another country increased greenhouse gas emissions, this effort would be in vain. The movements toward a greener future need to be supported by most developed countries and be a main goal for developing countries. Regulations on the burning of fossil fuels and plastic pollutants need to become common law. The Earth is dying, and countries are not effectively reversing these negative changes. A global effort for renewable energy should be a priority for every individual on Earth.

  19. Jenna De Ochoa says:

    The better question to ask here is how detrimental will it be for the American economy if the country continues to rely on energy from ‘kleptocrats’. These nations are clearly causing unnecessary harm to many other countries and to continue trade with them is to support the damage they are doing. Obviously, America, like every other nation on this planet, would benefit from sustainable sources of energy. If America attempted to implement more clean energy, job opportunities would soar. Clean and sustainable energy also means a cleaner environment. That said, I noticed that many of my peers commented on how difficult it would be for America to rely on itself for energy. In the next decade, it is likely impossible.

  20. Oliver Higginbotham says:

    I do think that America would be a better place with a more sustainable energy source but only if we had large amounts of R&D into the technology, because if we had more efficient ways to harvest energy such as sun, geological, or even nuclear, we would need less for more. This would also push more towards sustanible energy since more efficiency would mean higher energy density which almost anything which requires energy takes that into account.

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