Marita Noon: Energy Makes Life Comfortable and Safe

by David Bier on January 18, 2012

in Blog

In her new book Energy Freedom: The role of energy in your life & how environmentalists control its use, Marita Noon gives a down-to-earth explanation of energy and environmentalism. In this passage, she explains how energy makes our lives comfortable.

Energy Freedom was released in 2012

“Greed is good” was far more than a catch phrase made part of the vernacular through the popular late ‘80s movie Wall Street. As is often the case, art imitates life. “Greed is good” was more than a line from a movie; it was the mantra of the times. However, as Gordon Gecko, the famed character played by Michael Douglas, found out, too much greed was not good. His tactics sent him away for twenty years.

Today, in an age of simplicity and even austerity, “greed is good” sounds horribly outdated. Replacing it would be the slogan, “green is good.” Anything or anyone who can label one’s self as “green” has a perceived marketing advantage. Without fully understanding the implications of “green,” people support the “green” concept as generally being better for the environment. Without a specific universal definition of “green,” products as diverse as political candidates, diapers, and cars proudly sport the moniker. Though like Gordon Gecko learned, it is possible to have too much. Blind adoption of concepts labeled “green” may imprison America for the next twenty years or more. Resources, which America needs to move forward, are being locked up.

The resources I am referring to are energy, specifically oil, gas, coal, and uranium—the essential ingredients that fuel America. But other natural resources are also a part of what supplies our energy. We need copper for wires in transmission lines. Sulfur, lead, lithium, and rare earths are needed for batteries—and these resources, too, are being locked up. While most people think of gasoline and/or electricity when they think of energy, if they think about it at all, there is much more involved.

Wyoming’s new Governor Matt Mead tells of a man he met while campaigning. The man told him in no uncertain terms that the country needs to stop using “dirty coal.” Governor Mead asked the man what he proposed we use instead. “Electricity!” was the man’s proud response—not realizing electricity comes from coal. Most people do not give energy a thought, and, like the man Governor Mead encountered, they probably think electricity comes from the wall. Despite people’s low cognizance, energy is responsible for the safe and comfortable lives we lead.

Shortly after I first became aware of the role energy plays in modern life, I went on vacation to Grand Cayman. Preparing for the trip, I’d read that virtually nothing is grown on the island and almost everything is shipped in. It made me wonder about the island’s source of power. I began asking the service people I encountered about their electricity. I asked the hotel manager, cab drivers, and waitresses, “Where does your electricity come from on this island?” Not one had an answer. I was there five days before a bartender summoned the manager, who told me, “Diesel-powered generators.” The diesel fuel was shipped in, probably in diesel-powered ships.

The Grand Cayman quest reminded me of my honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands. We were on Virgin Gorda when I ordered a pina colada. With his heavy accent, the bartender told me, “We have no courant.” At least that is what I though he said. It took a few tries before I understood that he’d said they had no “current.” The power was out!

While most of us do not give energy a thought until “we have no current,” it is the first thing we want restored following a natural disaster. In the wake of the 2008 gasoline price spike, Senate Leader Harry Reed claimed: “Oil and gas are making us sick,” when in fact they are what keep us well. Energy saves lives. When fire strikes or hurricanes are bearing down upon a city, it is energy—in this case in the form of gasoline—that allows people to drive away and escape death. One of the biggest hindrances to rescue efforts following Japan’s tsunami crisis was the lack of gasoline. When weather is extreme, it is energy—usually the form of electricity (most frequently from coal or natural gas)—that keeps people alive. Air conditioning allows people to live in comfort in Arizona in the summer. Heating keeps people from freezing to death in Alaska in the winter.

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