I remember that line from President Jimmy Carter’s April 1977 speech about the energy crisis. We had gasoline rationing and a string of powerful government incentives to reduce energy use, including lowering speed limits on highways to 55 mph. We all realized that our energy independence was foundational to our present and future national security.
Many things changed after that … too many to mention in a short blog, but for those of you who want to Google them, you might check on PURPA and the Fuel Use Act. It is fascinating to see how worrying about energy security moves the energy supply portfolio around. And to be fair, you should also check out Three Mile Island, which occurred two years later and basically shut down plans for the nuclear power business in the United States.
It is sobering to realize how energy planning and policies shift as we face world situations. We have had another seismic shift now that Russia has invaded Ukraine.
Societies cope with scarcity in many ways … and often cope well when their backs are up against the wall. We admire the Ukrainians in their search for freedoms. We tend to be generous when people are being oppressed.
Yet the average citizen wants easy answers to complex issues. We want quick fixes to problems created over decades by neglect or ignorance. Most of us have little patience or curiosity about truly understanding how and what we all must do. Frankly, most of us automatically reject someone telling us what to do … even when it is in their best interests or the law of the land.
Politics doesn’t help with the needed education … we tend to vote for people who say they are going to fix something even when they can’t. We always want a hero to save the day. Seldom are we willing to “tough it out” as our previous generations have.
We have serious questions to face and need serious public dialogue about securing our country and the world at large. The last thing we need is ideological nonsense at a time like this.