Hello, Gristmill readers. I’m very excited that Dave has asked me to do some guest blogging here, as Grist is my favorite environmental magazine and I’m thrilled that Gristmill is asking good questions and reaching out to other bloggers and publications. As I told Dave via email, I used to blog about environmental topics on the now-defunct American Footprint, before I got distracted by terrorism and American policy in the Greater Middle East.

Always in the back of my mind, however, has been the conviction that environmental and in particular energy issues aren’t getting enough attention, and that they are deeply intertwined with our national security. Our current national complacency is, in the long run (or even in the short run!), going to make us less prosperous and less safe. I’m by no means a policy expert, an economist, a scientist, or a defense strategist. I’m just a regular old blogger. But I do read a lot and what I read makes me very, very concerned that we aren’t doing enough as a society to make the right choices. Because we do have choices, and we are at a clear fork in the road.

There have been a number of developments recently that, in my humble opinion, offer great hope. The first is that the American public, by and large, is well aware of its growing dependence on imported oil. This is more true when pump prices are high, as they are now (and may well be indefinitely). The second is that several powerful new groups–defense hawks, unions, big business, and evangelical Christians–are starting to make noises that they, too, want to push for change, and push hard.

And that’s a good thing.

Traditional environmental activists (assuming there is such an identifiable group) should warmly welcome their support, because we’re going to need it. They’ve got big megaphones and beelines to important centers of power. I don’t expect all of the factions of this emerging coalition to get along all of the time. Some compromises may need to be made in order to keep everyone on board. But the conversation and the jostling and the disagreement about strategy and tactics are ultimately a source of strength, because the more debate the broader public hears, the better. And those folks know how to win converts to their causes, and no doubt have many lessons to impart. Let’s play this game to win.