Energy is one of the crucial building blocks of an industrial society. We heat, we cool, we pump water and we move around our geography with relative ease. It’s hard to fully consider the subtlety of how energy costs influence our modern conveniences.
We can talk about agrarian societies that are powered by animals which do work for man. We can talk about primitive societies that barely survive through hunting for food and looking for potable water.
We can look at the evolution of our technology through history and measure our accomplishments. We must also take care to consider that much of what we consider as history is present with us if we look around the world in remote areas where daily survival is not to be taken for granted.
Wars have been fought for control of energy. Middle Eastern history over the last century has been dramatically influenced by the cheap oil below the ground. Now, with the emergence of the Bakken field and the Permian Basin field in the US, measured available resources in the US exceed our wildest expectations. The world economy is in turmoil as the balance of economic power changes.
For those who have no drinking water, the debate about energy is moot. Converting contaminated water into drinking water is not that difficult. It takes energy, but mostly, it takes engineering. The kind of engineering that is more difficult; reducing something to it’s lowest cost and complexity. Thankfully many creative and dedicated people are engaged in the battle to solve the problem.
This Christmas season, this New Year’s Day, let’s take time to turn off our electronic toys. Let’s forget the silly debates about who has the coolest gear, or when computers will become self-aware. Let’s take time to be thankful for the many blessings we have. Most of us will not have to worry about water to drink, getting a good meal, or that something big is going to eat us.
For those who live in desperate conditions, let us find a way to make things less so, so that 2015 will be a turn-around year for those who really need it.