Why, when I open up a newsletter or market evaluation report about “traditional energy” markets, do I read about fossil fuels?

Allow me to propagate a radical idea that I hope will change the way you think and talk about energy. First there was solar energy. It remains as steady, predictable, and powerful today as it has for the past five billion years (give or take a few creationist theories). No life form on earth relies on any other form of energy other than what the sun provides, except for humans. Solar energy therefore, is not the “alternative”; it is the primary source of all energy. Energy from the sun begets wind, biomass, wave, and (along with the moon) tidal energy. So, why are renewables called alternative?

Renewable energy is the original traditional energy, and I’m asking you to help me restore its rightful name! The phrase “alternative energy” marginalizes the true value of our traditional energy sources. The alternative to traditional energy is the short term solution we know as fossil and nuclear fuels. Okay, I suppose fossil fuels can be considered stored solar energy in a pinch, but fossils and nukes have dominated global energy consumption for only a tiny blip of human history, making them the alternative to the real traditional energy! The goal is to get away from these new-fangled, filthy, corrupt, and expensive alternative fuels, and back to living within our means using traditional energy.

The best thing we can do with our remaining resources of fossil fuels is to keep them in the ground for some as-yet unknown future need. The second best thing we can do is use them to help transition to a clean energy economy through actions and leadership that promote and support research leading to the harvest of copious amounts of traditional renewable energy. Millions of jobs will be created around the efficient use and production of sustainable energy, while costing nothing in human lives or shattered attempts at diplomacy.

Perhaps the biggest deterrent to traditional energy is that its held to a higher standard than its dirty alternatives for being perfect. No thank you, money managers of the world. Step back! Your accounting strategies have no power in our clean future because global transition back to traditional energy is inevitable. Traditional energy can be a cost-effective, locally produced, viable way to operate our energy intense economy and we want to get it right through healthy debate,  high level thought and, dare I say it, planning.

Humanity (yep, that would be you and me and all the rest of us) will need to get a grip on itself and take control of our reckless and endless desire for more, bigger, shinier. Endless consumption can be replaced with the reverent receipt of what nature is gracious enough to gift us. Living on an island hurtling through space like we do means we can’t break the budget of the natural capital available to all of us, and against which we’ve borrowed heavily. Take it personally, take action!

Do you have a copy of The Homeowner's Energy Handbook? All about efficiency and renewables!

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