In pursuit of energy

We have become very dependent on energy sources to live our modern lives. Automobiles, fueled principally by gasoline, made suburban living possible. Jet fuel gets us from one part of the country to another in less than a day (hopefully). It also can get us to other parts of the world in less than a day. We burn oil, natural gas, or other fossil fuels to heat our homes in the winter. We cool them using electricity generated from a variety resources, but usually from natural gas or coal. This is supplemented by hydro, nuclear, and to a very small degree by solar and wind generators.

When this pursuit of energy to live our lives in the way we want to live them goes wrong, oftentimes the result is calamitous. We recently mourned with the people of West Virginia the deaths of coal miners. There are charges that safety at that mine was compromised for the sake of profit. Government officials may have been bribed to look the other way. Just recently, off-shore oil workers were killed when the rig exploded, burned, and disappeared into the Gulf of Mexico. The growing disaster on the Gulf Coast may be worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster. Also in the past, we cannot forget the Chernobyl reactor disaster. The ground at that site is still unsafe.

Dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security. We produce a lot of oil. We import a whole lot more. Much of our imports are from countries hostile to us. If they decided to turn off the spigots, we would be in deep trouble. We need a rapid conversion away from oil, but that will never happen. We are addicted.

Then there is the environmental costs of our pursuit of energy. Burning coal is choking the air and everything that breaths the air. Burning fossil fuels increases the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributing to our current climate change. Nuclear technology seems much safer these days and does not pollute. France and other countries rely on nuclear power and have very good safety records. Solar and wind farms are increasing, but will only provide a very small fraction of our electricity needs.

Nuclear power is the best alternative to our energy needs. It is relatively safe, but we need to realistically address the spent fuel storage issues. It does not pollute (except for the spent material issues). They can replace our coal and natural gas fired power plants. They can provide power for our automobiles and other vehicles. Airplanes are going to be stuck with oil for a while. The navy has proved that small nuclear plants can power ships.

God gave us this planet to take care of it. It is our moral responsibility to leave the earth the way we found it for future generations. Taking what we need without thought to the long-term, with no regard to safety, with denial of the climate effects, with an attitude of “I got mine and you don’t count,” is immoral. The Earth is not ours. It is God’s. How will we account to God for our care of the planet? How will God judge us?

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