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).

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

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.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!