The New York Times ran a story today about the Climate and Energy Project and their work in Kansas. Instead of using the fear of climate change to motivate people to reduce their energy use, they appealed to patriotism, thrift, and religion. The problem is that some of their prescriptions do not actually promote patriotism or thrift.
The picture shows people eating by candlelight to save energy. Some people incorrectly argue that reducing our use of electricity would reduce our imports of oil. But as this graph shows, only 1% of our electricity is produced by oil.
Almost all of our energy resources that produce electricity come from the good ol’ U.S.A., especially in Kansas. Kansas gets 70% of its electricity from coal, 19% from nuclear, 5.7% from natural gas, and 5.2% from wind.
As for thrift, using candles to save money isn’t being thrifty. Candles give off nice light (unlike compact fluorescent light bulbs), but they are more expensive than using electricity and more dangerous than using light bulbs. Unlike light bulbs, candles are both a fire hazard and they create indoor air pollution. This is not to say that candles are bad, only that light bulbs are more efficient and safer.
Instead of assuming that using energy makes us extravagant, traitorous heathens, we should consider the real trade-offs. We use energy because it makes our lives better. We should never lose sight of the fact that energy makes us safer, more healthy, and expands our ability to travel. In essence, energy allows us to enjoy the good things in life a little more.