The goal of this book is to give readers the intellectual touchstones that will allow them to understand energy policy in a holistic and rigorous fashion.
This book is not intended to convey a detailed review of our energy use as a nation. One would be hard-pressed to do that with several shelves worth of dense information. This book would, in fact, be too short to give a detailed review of energy use in a city, suburb, single-family home, or even an individual’s day-to-day life. From the time we wake until the time we sleep, our consumption of energy is virtually seamless. One could easily write a long book just detailing and contextualizing where all the energy comes from to make and operate a mere handful of devices such as a laptop computer, plasma television, wind turbine, or solar panel. I will try to give enough details and concrete examples to help the reader think about energy issues, particularly energy policy—the myriad set of rules, regulations, government interventions, and private actions that cumulatively produce, import, export, distribute, and account for the costs of energy use.
Still, the primary purpose of this book is to introduce and discuss a set of energy-policy concepts that can help people better understand the energy civilization in which we live and better understand and contextualize arguments over specific energy policies. I have written this book as a series of complementary essays that can also stand alone in order to offer greater flexibility to readers who may have an interest in only one or another element of energy policy. We will start by examining the fundamental nature of our relationship to energy use and then turn to some recently proposed changes we might make to our energy systems.
After reading this book, readers confronted with a new energy proposal should be better equipped to evaluate how that proposal relates to preserving the benefits of our energy-based civilization; energy abundance; energy affordability; energy reliability; energy independence and security; energy and the environment, and the nature of energy system transitions.