As oil prices fall, alternative energy is shunted aside.
According to The New York Times, there is a very real funding threat facing alternative energy right now. As oil prices drop, so does interest in alternative energy. In fact, it appears that between the credit market freeze (barely showing small signs of thawing) and growing lack of interest as oil prices return to more reasonable levels, alternative energy projects are having difficulty getting the money to move forward. Additionally, consumers are losing interest in alternative energy now that oil prices are coming down and they don’t have to pay as much to fill up the tank.
This trend, however, could prove dangerous for our future prosperity and energy stability. Greener Pastures makes this rather astute observation:
Recent lower oil prices threaten to squash alternative energy projects well funded just six months ago. Is our memory that short that we truly believe oil prices won’t go up again?
Now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to keep our attention fixed on developing alternative energy solutions to fossil fuels. Alternative energy costs more now, but the nature of technological advancements and the fact that renewables can be replenished indefinitely mean that the cost-efficiency increases over time. Fossil fuels do not work that way. By their nature, fossil fuels must advance in price. This is because they are limited in supply, and energy demand will only increase. This means that, over time, oil and coal have no choice but to become more expensive. Fossil fuel supply cannot be increased in the same way renewable alternative energy can.
Drilling more domestically — even if we could start immediately (and we can’t) — will never give us enough to promote energy stability and independence. We just don’t have the reserves to meet our growing energy demands. Sinking time, energy and money into domestic drilling is a red herring that diverts our attention away from developing and improving the technology that can lead us to a more sustainable energy future. It sounds nice, but in the long-term it’s practically useless. We need to shift our view from short-term solutions that sound catchy and focus on using our famed American ingenuity and innovation to advance alternative energy. We need to do it now. Or we’ll still be stuck with 20th Century energy "solutions" in the second and third decades of the 21st Century.