Webster defines crisis as a "decisive moment"or "turning point". We are now at an extremely critical stage of using energy beyond a practical limit. We have increased our usage enormously, especially oil, in the past decade. The consequence is we are quickly exhausting our finite supplies of oil and natural gas. As a result, we are becoming more dependent on foreign sources of oil to keep our country functioning. In 1977 the United States with only 6 percent of the world's population consumed approximately 30 percent of the energy produced in the world. These statistics are startling reminders of our insatiable energy appetite. Some people may ask "do we have an energy crisis". The answer is a definite yes. Our next step is to realize we are at a crucial time if we are to reverse our terrible trip towards energy starvation. We will have to recognize our mounting trouble and act decisively to stem the tide. Conservation is not the total Answer, but it would certainly improve our situation. This would have to be a conservation program that would encompass all of our consumers. The initial step would be less driving and more use of mass transportation system. In some parts of the country it would mean adding more buses and trains, in other parts, it would be modernizing the existing systems. Also it would include an educational program for the energy consumers to make them aware of how they can save energy daily. This has already begun and hopefully it will continue.
In addition, the new car manufacturers will have to increase the fuel efficiency of all cars. Another solution will concern the industrial sector of our economy, to continue their cutbacks and their fuel efficiency programs without seriously affecting their production. What will be necessary in an across the board conservation program which will touch every part of our populace?
Nuclear power is an important part of the fusion of uranium atoms. There are a number of nuclear energy plants operating in 1980 and their safety record is the best compared to oil refineries and coal mining. We should continue to develop more nuclear sources with proper regulatory procedures and not bow to any pressure groups unless their objections are completely valid.
The other short term solution is to take more advantage of our abundant coal supply. One step is the recent synthetic fuel development act signed by President Carter. Another would be more transitions by electrical energy plants to coal as a source instead of using oil or natural gas. At the same time, we must be very careful with the safety hazards to the environment that coal creates.
Besides the previously mentioned short term solutions; each regime, state and country must be cognizant of their particular energy problems and be open to innovative or unorthodox solutions. For example, Maine possibly could supplement their energy supplies with modern windmill devices because of their location in the North Atlantic. California has already been successful using geothermal as an energy source. Most likely in the near future there will not be any easy answers. However, if each area could blend a combination of alternatives to satisfy their needs, then all of our difficulties through this transitional period could be lessened.
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