The first commercial oil well ever drilled was in the year 1859. The hunt for oil took more than a year of trial and error for the drill to hit an oil pool which was just 69 feet deep. The process which was done near Titusville, Pennsylvania was handled by Drake’s Folly after Edwin Drake; a former train conductor. The oil well is said to have produced 2,000 barrels of oil in its first year before drying up.
However by the year 1900, production had shot up to 60 million barrels per year as the world drastically became more petroleum dependant. Towns got swallowed up by cities and automobiles powered by gasoline were all the rage for mobility purposes.
In this day and age, the dependency on non renewable energy is quite massive and with it, the global climate is indeed in threat. The 360 billion tons of carbon dioxide released over a century and a half have led to worrying climatic changes.
As much as the drilling and refining methods have improved, this reliance of imported petroleum is not only threatening the American economy but the national security too.
Clear obstacles stand in the way of a transition to renewable energy sources such as: wind, geothermal, solar and hydroelectric energy. This revolution comes with the burden of making some jobs obsolete while creating new ones. With the American unemployment rate being at 16%, clinging on to businesses and jobs is quite high.
Recent polls and the election results lead one to believe that Americans are uncertain about the shift to green energy and perceive renewable energy as a costly government directed venture. The high dependency on non renewable energy is vast and a green energy transition is filled with hindrances coming from major institutional and economic players. The year 2009 saw governments around the world give subsidies worth just $57 billion to the renewable energy sector while pouring out $312 billion to the fossil fuel sector.
Experts in the energy sector view the resistance to green energy as risky and reckless. Mark Muro is a co-author of the recent report quantifying the green economy and a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution. His opinion on the matter is loud and clear when he says that we need to take better care of the technology pipeline. He notices how China and countries in Europe have invested profoundly in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and taunts the United States of America for lagging behind. ‘We’ve under invested for al long time in energy innovation,’ he says.
For this green energy turn around to happen, renewable energy needs to be embraced fast. The pessimists who initially made fun of Drake’s Folly, almost immediately found themselves benefiting from the industrial advances which were preceded from that first drilling.
The United States green energy sector is growing in leaps and bounds, twice the rate of the overall American economy. Maybe one day historians will take a look back on the existing harsh climatic conditions and see it as an introduction to the green energy era.