Here is what I would like the next president to tell the American people:
- The era of cheap energy is over. We will never again see cheap gas, and we can expect the price of electricity to rise inexorably.
- In order for the United States to survive, we need to rebuild our energy infrastructure.
- To reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to implement a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system. This is a national security issue.
- We need a Manhattan-style government-funded project to develop new forms of renewable energy. We should be spending several tens of billions of dollars every year on this research.
- Increased drilling or unconventional sources of fuel, like oil shale or tar sands, will provide so little fuel that they are simply not worth doing.
The truth is that there is no way to avoid the pain of high energy prices. There are no easy solutions, and no way for us to continue living as we have in the past. Changes are on the way. Deal with it.
This underscores a key point that I have not seen discussed. Given that we need to rebuild our energy infrastructure anyway, it makes sense and is possible to take care of climate change at the same time we take care of energy. In this way, I don’t think we have to set the problems of energy and climate in opposition to each other.