I love it when scientists roll up their lab coat sleeves and get feisty. The Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) is never afraid to translate scientific expertise into policy demands, and their new plan for ending our addiction to oil is no exception.
The USC points out that, if we do nothing, US demand for oil will rise to 25 billion barrels a day by 2030. Or…we could easily cut our oil consumption in half by 2030 by hiking a handful of fuel efficiency standards (for cars, trucks, boats, planes, and buildings) and investing in mass transit. In so doing, the US would become a global leader in energy security and the fight against climate change and would save tens of billions of dollars in the process.
Sounds great, but there’s a catch…politics. With a withering mid-term election on the horizon and a President who can’t even bring himself to throw some free solar panels up on the White House, it seems once again like an idea that should be a no-brainer will turn out to be a non-starter.
The USC report comes not a moment too soon. Earlier this month, a German military report on peak oil was leaked to the German newspaper Spiegel: According to German military analysts, peak oil has arrived, meaning the world is producing in 2010 more oil than it ever has before or ever will again. The report warns of a drastic oil crisis if Germany and other western democracies don’t get their acts together around renewable energy right quick. What’s Germany worried will happen when oil reserves grow scarce? Oh, just total market failure and the collapse of democracy. But hey, we like driving our big SUVs 80mph so don’t bother us with nuisances like the end of the world as we know it.