Energy — Don’t Be Left in the Dark
As the debate on energy reform takes shape, more Americans should become involved in the issues
Check President Barack Obama’s agenda and I’m sure you’ll find the word “energy” somewhere at the top of the page. Why? It affects the economy, the environment, and our nation’s security. The production and consumption of energy has been blamed for wars, attacks on civil liberties, and catastrophic damages like global climate change. It is used to heat homes, run cars, and is currently allowing you to read this blog. So where’s the problem?
The term energy has been used to define the sources that we use to power our lives. Renewable energy sources are naturally replenished in a relatively short period of time and include biomass, hydropower, geothermal energy, wind energy, and solar energy. Nonrenewable energy sources, which are used about 93% of the time, include petroleum (oil), natural gas, coal and uranium (nuclear). Only recently has the U.S. decided to acknowledge that the country is facing an energy crisis, as we attempt to find more efficient ways of producing and using these resources. And with this revelation comes shocking realities that many Americans are not aware of.
For instance, petroleum is currently our country’s main energy supply. However, the Energy Information Administration reports that over 58% of the petroleum we consumed in 2007 was imported from other countries. See a problem?
On a global level, the U.S. accounts for only 4.5% of the world’s population, but we consume almost 25% of the world’s petroleum. See another problem?
Until now, the production and sale of energy have been lead, or driven, by a few, select private companies and government-controlled organizations. This monopolized industry has been responsible for the costs of the gasoline we put into our cars, the electricity that lights our streets, and the natural gas that warms our homes.
The question is: How can a handful of folks be responsible for producing something that is so crucial to the existence of almost every society? Would we allow control of the world’s food, the source responsible for energizing our body, to be restricted to only a few restaurants? How can some of us voice such strong opinions on issues or matters that have little or no direct burden on our lives, but simply ignore the intense debates on energy?
Once the healthcare debate is over, energy will take center-stage. Many business leaders and politicians are all securing their seat at the conversation table to ensure that they get a piece of the energy pie. As we try to sort-out the future challenges in energy, I encourage you to become more involved in the issues. Learn more about the policies in question, and how future decisions will affect you, your community, and ultimately the planet. With a little effort we can rightfully contribute to the conversation, and help support decisions that will benefit us.
The opportunity for business and work in the energy industry is also highly overlooked. The nation’s second largest African-American owned company, CAMAC International Corp., has found success in the industry, and plans to continue to prosper as many more opportunities seem to be on the horizon. Obama has also promised that the energy industry will provide many new jobs, as the country attempts to encourage change through stimulus packages and other initiatives like The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. And it certainly seems like a U.S. energy overhaul is necessary, so I’m asking all Black Enterprise readers to channel those creative juices and entrepreneurial spirits towards helping our country invent solutions to our energy crisis. Let’s step out of the dark, into the light, and participate in one of the most important issues on the planet.
André Williams is the founder and principal consultant of Energy Relations—a full service firm that specializes in providing public relations and communications services for businesses and organizations in the energy industry. He has over 11 years experience providing consultation in the energy, environmental, and government sectors.