the energy picture

It’s tempting to take the micro-view and look for ways to target each of our energy problems with a technical fix. Can’t we improve the energy efficiency of vehicles, insulate our buildings, and develop renewable energy sources? Yes, of course. Can’t we regulate the fossil fuel industry better, and allow the vast, recently unlocked North American reserves of shale gas and shale oil to be produced responsibly? Possibly. We could do all of those things, and many more besides, to lessen the current energy economy’s impacts on natural and human communities—and still there would remain serious obstacles ahead.

Why? Let’s move out from the details of our dilemma and take in the big picture.