Posted January 9, 2017
Energy is the power to create, shape, transform and animate. It’s part of every human endeavor, initiative and invention. Energy helps turn disconnected thoughts into unified concepts, builds them and then puts them in motion.
Energy is freedom. It moves us from here to there – across town, across a continent and around the world. It supports the economic rungs forming the ladder for upward mobility.
Energy is pivotal to improving the lives of millions of the world’s most impoverished people. It brings light to darkness. It helps ensure clean supplies of drinking water, provides safe home cooking fuels that protect health and is the foundation of the chemistry from which modern medicines are built.
Energy is the ability to manage our environment. It protects us from the planet’s potentially harmful aspects, delivering warmth when it’s cold and cooling when it’s warm. It lets us responsibly adapt to our circumstances while advancing climate objectives.
Energy is essential for modern life. It’s the power to process, analyze and compute. We use energy to assemble and apply information that educates and empowers. Energy runs modern communications that reach across the globe and beyond, creating connections between people and fostering the exchange of ideas.
Energy is the key to longer and better lives. It’s in the medical knowledge, diagnostic technologies and treatments that counter disease and heal. It makes advanced health care more available to more people.
We depend on energy, every single one of us. From the moment we get up in the morning until we lie down at night – and then after we drift off to sleep – energy is all around us. Energy is … everything.
Imagine life without 21st-century energy. Our forefathers experienced it. In that world, all of life’s daily challenges were more difficult, costlier, more time consuming and necessarily more restricting. If that were our world, more of our waking hours would be spent focused on core necessities. Food, clothing, shelter – all would be harder to secure for ourselves and our families. We would have to work longer to take care of basic requirements.
There would be less freedom. There would be less opportunity for virtually everything people pursue: education, inquiry, exploration, problem-solving, construction, advancement, travel, art, music, science, health, leisure, benevolence. And the list goes on, because we would lack the energy to move, build and communicate in the modern ways we often take for granted.
Without abundant, affordable and secure energy, lives would be shorter and those years less productive. Our horizons would be narrower, our possibilities more constrained. The opportunities for each of us to better ourselves would be more elusive – and might not come at all. Many would be locked in place, their futures predetermined.
Thus, progress depends on understanding energy and its varied, catalytic roles – from securing our livelihoods to achieving the sublime. Reckoning energy’s broad worth adds urgency to securing it, optimizing its power and being efficient stewards. With this knowledge, we recognize the necessity of looking to the future and the energy it will require – and then planning and working to develop it.
These considerations must drive the energy choices Americans make today: What path will our nation take? Do we have the right leadership and the right policies to effectively harness our energy resources? America is energy rich, yet too often we fail to connect this wealth – and the ability to safely and responsibly manage it – with the capacity to spread and deepen our country’s prosperity.
We assume energy. Flip a switch, and a light comes on. Plug in an appliance, and it works. Turn the key or press an ignition button, and the engine rumbles to life. We live by faith – that the energy we need will always be there. Yet, at some point the thought necessarily occurs:
Energy must come from somewhere.
America is powered every day by an energy mix whose foundation is oil and natural gas. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) figures show that oil and gas supplied 65 percent of the energy Americans used in 2015, and EIA’s latest Annual Energy Outlook projects the two will account for 68 percent of the energy we use in 2050.
We’re an all-of-the-above energy nation – utilizing oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, solar, hydroelectric, wind, geothermal and other energies. Yet, because of their benefits – including reliability, portability and high-energy content – abundant oil and natural gas are our country’s leading fuels today and will be tomorrow.
We’re fortunate: Through private investment, technological innovation and American grit, U.S. oil and natural gas producers launched a domestic energy renaissance that saw crude production surge 88 percent from 2008 through 2015, with gas output rising 36 percent over the same period. Vast deposits of shale, safely unlocked by modern hydraulic fracturing and advanced horizontal drilling, have made the U.S. the world’s leading oil and natural gas producer.
Oil and natural gas are refined into the fuels that power U.S. transportation and commerce and that cook meals and heat millions of Americans’ homes. Petroleum is processed into the asphalt that paves roads and the chemicals that are the building blocks for an almost endless number of every-day consumer items, manufactured goods and more. Natural gas is the No. 1 fuel for generating electricity – the reliable supply of which ensures vital services, comfort and creativity opportunity for everyone.
Thinking about energy over the course of a day, your day – from morning to mid-day to evening – you’ll see that very few aspects of modern life aren’t touched in some way by energy from oil and natural gas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.