Our capacity to harness energy is a vital component of our modern industrial civilization. Yet our profligate use of non-renewable energy sources — primarily oil, coal and gas — has led to resource depletion and has put enormous environmental pressures on the supply and quality of water and food.
Because we have become so fully dependent on energy to provide us these basic human needs, it too has become a basic need and must be considered a part of the commons, the shared birthright of all humanity.
Our current civilization was built on fossil fuels. We have begun the process of transitioning to ecologically sustainable systems where we can meet today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, wave power, geothermal energy, bioenergy, and tidal power are all 100% renewable; emerging technologies are making them more efficient and cost effective.
In the U.S. and the rest of the developed world, growth in the use of fossil fuels has begun to slow. Our cars are more fuel-efficient, construction has improved, along with private and public conservation efforts. But part of this reduction in the growth in energy consumption comes from outsourcing a portion of our manufacturing to countries around the world, while the domestic demand for fossil fuels of these growing economies is dramatically increasing.