Let me engage in a piece of meta-wonkerific self-reference and quote myself:

"Energy security" is a lopsided way of framing our energy problem, and left un-balanced, will do more harm than good.

I said that in the context of talking about coal — the enemy of the human race — but this week brought another piece of evidence from a different quarter.

Lots of energy types think the most readily available, cheapest substitutes for conventional (imported) petroleum are unconventional sources like oil shale, heavy oil, and synthetic fuel via Fischer-Tropsch (i.e., coal-to-liquid).

They may be right that these sources can gain us energy independence, but as a new study shows, they’ll also bring environmental catastrophe. Says co-author Alex Farrell …

… we conclude that the environmental risks associated with this transition [away from oil] are much bigger than the risk to a country’s economy or the security of their fuel supply.


We have two problems: dependence on declining fossil fuels from hostile countries, and global warming. Solving the latter will almost certainly solve the former. The converse is not true.