I Sense a Tipping Point on Energy
I sense a tipping point in the realm of energy and alternative energy. In an earlier post I strongly argued that we need to solve the energy problem to save ourselves. That was back in May. Since then I have followed the subject closely and think that we may well be approaching a tipping point in our perception about our almost total reliance on oil.
A tipping point is that point in time or occurrence that tips human behavior, perception or influence into a new area or perception. Almost over night things seem to change, perceptions change, points of view change, new actions are taken and people move to a new place of awareness. I sense this is happening now in the area of energy. Here are just a few occurances that, together, suggest that we might have turned the corner in our viewpoint of oil and alternative energy.
-By the end of summer, people had started to change their behavior due to the price of gasoline being over $3.00. People stopped buying SUVs, waiting lists for hybrid cars lengthened at dealers, people started to base job searches on how short the commute would be. Companies went to 4 day work weeks of 10 hours, allowing their employees to pay 20% less in commuting costs. There were a number of other changes in behavior brought about by high priced gasoline.
-Now that gas has declined significantly (just before the elections), people are still clamoring for cars with good MPG ratings, demand for hybrids has not diminished, SUVs are only being sold with 0% financing, and when asked by news reporters, consumers say they are permanently changing their behavior as they expect the price of gasoline to go back up. This is something that has not happened before. When gas went down, people forgot about conservation and changing behavior. Not this time.
-Toyota has moved into the number three spot in terms of U.S. auto sales. This is due to their recognition that cars with high MPG is what people want. They are also the number one producer of hybrid cars. No coincidence.
-Daimler Chrysler and Ford have announced billions of dollars in losses due to stubbornly manufacturing vehicles that have low MPG. Neither company felt the need to produce hybrid cars. Now of course with huge losses they can no longer continue to maintain they know what the consumer wants. To survive they need to produce energy efficient vehicles.
-Democratic polling research prior to the coming election points to â€œenergy independenceâ€™ as the number one security issue. This means nothing less than the American public now ties national security to being no longer reliant on foreign oil. In other words, being strong on defense equals conservation and alternative fuels!
-Finally, President Bush has taken a â€˜standâ€™ [more of a catch up to the rest of us] that the U.S. is â€œtoo dependent on oilâ€. This means nothing less than the winds of change regarding alternative energy and conservation are blowing so strongly that even the stubborn, former oil man â€˜decider in chiefâ€™ has to alter his stance.
As a futurist I am always looking for places where the future is showing up in the present. Our energy future is now starting to show up. The early stages of a fundamental change in our view of energy has clearly begun. In addition I have tried to develop the ability of pattern recognition, to see developing patterns which usually become trends. There is now a clear pattern of movement toward developing alternatives to petroleum, toward conservation and more intelligence regarding energy use in general. This trend will only gain momentum and force on the months and years ahead.