On Earth Day: Energy Use And Your Relationship

beyond fossil fools

An interview with Joe Shuster author of Beyond Fossil Fools: Road Map To Energy Independence.

In observation of Earth Day, we've interviewed Joe Shuster author of Beyond Fossil Fools: The Road Map To Energy Independence By 2040. The comprehensive (but totally readable) guide to kicking our fossil fuel habit before it's too late (be it ecological catastrophe or just running out).

YourTango: As you probably know, our brand is dedicated to love and relationships. In that context, what are some things that couples can do to help us towards energy independence?

Joe Shuster: Number one is to get informed and learn the strengths, weakness and limitations of all energy sources. Part of the solution will be wind and solar, but both are very expensive and need 100% backup.

I believe conservation is VERY important, but it is NOT the solution, and it is dangerous for people (couples) to believe as many do, that it will solve our energy problem. Let’s say the world found a way to use 50% less energy, but the world population grows the predicted 45% at the same time, then we would be at about a stand still with today's energy use. The fact is the world on a per capita basis will be using more energy- not less.

The U.S. is a different case: we use 25% of the world’s energy while having only 5% of the population – lots of room for improvement. We can use 40 to 50% less energy in this country particularly as we switch to our transportation fleet to plug-in hybrids and all electric cars. This would reduce the energy we need in 2040 by about 10%- significant but not the solution.

If we don't solve the problem in a timely fashion, our children and grandchildren will inherit a world in total chaos. If we do solve the problem, they will inherit a world where the atmosphere and the oceans will be recovering, less people will die from pollution, and hopefully they will be able to deal with the world's population and water problems.

It is well to know that if we deploy all renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, tides/waves, hydro, etc) up to their logical limitations, there would still be a deficit in the energy needed in 2040. This deficit can only be satisfied by either continuing to burn polluting fossil fuels or nuclear energy (fast reactors). No other options, no other choices.

Over the last year or so a few scientists have said that divorce has a negative impact on the environment given that splitting families (occupying two homes and so forth) uses more resources. Should people stay together for the Earth?

They should stay together for a lot of reasons. If you have a happy family, all members behave more responsibly.

In that vein, is having more than the replacement level of children (2.1 kids per woman/couple) damaging to energy needs / the environment?

Population growth should terrify all of us. In 30-40 years, the world population will grow by about 45%, and the U.S. population is predicted to grow by 30%. This brings tremendous pressure on all resources, including energy.

Your book expresses skepticism of carbon credits and cap-and-trade policies. How do you feel about the idea of a "carbon footprint?" I read a story recently about a woman calling an abrupt end to budding relationship because the drive across town unacceptably grew her carbon footprint. Any thoughts?

Carbon offsets, credits, and cap and trade are feel good band-aid solutions. They have had cap and trade in Europe for 3 years and have not reduced CO2 emissions. The problem is not solved until we abandon the use of fossil fuels.

If we get off of fossil fuels you can do all the long distance dating you want. (Tom, in fact, you can have a relationship in every city and port.)

There's such thing as a "vegesexual," a person who doesn't date (or get to know really well) people who are not vegetarians. Is there something we can come up with for renewable energy, maybe make it sexier?

Here is my shot at it: Solsexual (almost all power comes from the Sun, one way or the other). Our shot at it: Integrosexual ('integro' is Latin for "to renew").

Is there anything that you'd like to add that couples or people dating can do to help us become energy independent on this Earth Day?

See the quiz at www.beyondfossilfools.com particularly number 6 (the last answer) and number 8. Perhaps, include my quiz for your couples to determine if they are energy wise or energy foolish.

Finally, any pickup lines I can use to let a lady know that I'm an energy-independence advocate?

Less energy, less water, less paper, less heat, LESS EVERYTHING!

I recommend everyone check out Fossil Fool's Facebook page and friend them, also check out their YouTube page, they've a handful of incredibly informative videos. And we'll send the best three ideas in the next week for a replacement for enersexual and integrosexual a free copy of the book Beyond Fossil Fools. Do your part and I'll start working on that girl in every port thing.