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Thank you for a view relatively free of ideology — either pro- or anti-climate change. Whichever side you are on, the fact remains: oil is a finite resource. There is no free lunch when it comes to other energy sources either.

Where I live coal-fired power plants have been eliminated but we still burn natural gas to generate power. Our single biggest source of power is nuclear with its waste disposal problems. Next biggest is hydro-electric, but many reservoirs around the world are drying up and damming more rivers floods crop land and displaces human and wild life. Wind farms have been placed too close to homes causing a backlash over health and property value concerns. Solar fields are expensive and have a relatively short life span.

The elephant in the room is population growth and the skyrocketing demand for power in the developing world. Conservation will not be successful by way of light bulb upgrades alone.

One possible bright spot mentioned in the article is localization — cutting down on the need for transporting of goods and resources. This is difficult to accomplish right now because centralization has been the accepted model for power generation and goods production throughout the industrial age. Making as many buildings as possible net-zero consumers of electricity will help. Capturing and using waste energy from industrial processes will help. Using methane from sewage treatment plants and feedlots as fuel onsite will help. Unfortunately there is no single, magic bullet solution. Out of necessity, oil will be around for a long time to come no matter what its price, but hopefully less and less as a fuel and more for its other uses.

A good resource is the book Sustainable Energy — without the hot air by the recently departed David J. C. MacKay. It is available as a free download. A Harvard lecture by MacKay on the subject is available here.

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