Can you imagine a world where the government encourages carpooling, increased public transport and fuel-efficient cars? Imagine: gas-guzzling cars have almost disappeared from the marketplace, there are government subsidies for developing alternative energy sources, our governments are speaking openly and regularly of conservation and individual sacrifice for the common good…
Does this sound like some idyllic, utopian dream I have for the future? In fact, this is apparently what happened in the United States in the 1970s following the 1973 oil crisis. President Carter even installed solar panels on the White House. So what happened?!
Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, slashed the budget for solar energy development, and removed the solar panels from the White House. The two people he appointed as secretary of state and head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) were well known for their anti-environmentalist views. Way to go, President Reagan.
No one likes to be told we need to give up some things. Even now, when governments look at developing sources of alternative energy, there is little talk of reducing demand and consumption. The politicians have learned one lesson of the Carter era: if one wants to remain in office, it is best not to ask voters to sacrifice anything, ever.
So it’s up to us to voluntarily start making some sacrifices, for the sake of our future. It’s not easy, for sure, but if we’re going to wait until our governments force us to give up some things, it may be too late…
(A sign encouraging carpooling during the gas shortage resulting from the 1973 oil crisis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpooling))
Tom Murphy in his ‘Do the math’ blog did a great post along the same lines – check it out: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/12/the-future-needs-an-attitude-adjustment/#more-646