When Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis landed on my desk, I thought I would put it aside to read some day during a long weekend. But once I picked it up, the engaging writing had me reading through these critical issues. The book helps sort out the practical consequences of our energy usage, where fossil fuels fit in our lives, and why the energy crisis is very real, with time running out.
Authors Bittle and Johnson have an easy way with language, recognizing the energy debate is just as ferocious as some weighty issues that are closer to home: “Does eating local produce and using cloth diapers really save energy or not, and is it enough to matter?” Their goal it to assure us that, yes, what we do does matter, but that the issue is much, much larger than using smart lightbulbs or bicycles to curtail our energy consumption.
The three primary factors that affect emissions are: population growth, income per capita and intensity of emissions. These are the things that drive a country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The authors’ research shows the U.S. emissions intensity from 2002 to 2006 fell about two percent per year, so an optimist would say we are on the right track.
Many agree that with the new Washington administration the country is finally serious about solving the problem and ready to act. But if not soon, and not substantially, “we could pull the rug out from under the economy and leave our children living in a world that bears little resemblance to the one we know now.”
Who Turned Out the Lights? argues our goal should be not energy independence for the U.S. We don’t have enough oil to pump to allow independence from other countries when we hold about 2.4 percent of the world’s oil reserves and the Middle East has over 60 percent.