Why I care about climate and energy

I have four children. I expect to have at least that many grandchildren one day. I anticipate the world they inherit to be one filled with technical wonders, as mine has been, and also filled with the richness of life and human history. I fully expect their lives to include consumption of energy at a rate an order of magnitude or greater than mine has been; they will travel the world, and perhaps beyond this planet, with a comfort I never knew. They will build and create in both the virtual and physical worlds, they will have freedoms and capabilities beyond our current imaginations. And I know, without a doubt, that fossil fuels cannot sustain this world I envision for my grandchildren - both because the climate and other pollution implications of that level of fossil consumption would be fatal to that future world, and simply because fossil carbon represents a finite resource whose day has been wondrous, but is passing.

That finiteness means the passing is inevitable - the only question is what fraction of the remaining fossil carbon enters the atmosphere before we are done with it. Our actions now may seem to have only small effects, but what each one of us does turns that dial a little bit one way or the other. Market forces already see the end, and are turning themselves naturally to fund replacement technologies. The actions of powerful parties - government, corporations, and highly respected non-profit organizations - can have a huge influence one way or the other.

Those who push the dial in the "burn more" direction are acting to delay inevitable progress. They are in effect trying to hold back the tide of change, technological change which was so beneficial to our present world. The future does not belong to coal or oil.

[From an email to a friend, trying to explain my vision of the future and why action now is so important.]