Almost all discussions of the relationships between energy and the environment concentrate on the impacts of producing energy. We are frequently reminded of effects such as acid rain, atmospheric heating by greenhouse gases, oil spills, Chernobyl, black lung disease, and the loss of habitat for animals from the snail darter to the Alaskan caribou.
Often energy production is cast as a conflict; i.e., commercial gain versus inflicting damage to humans and the environment. Such a viewpoint has been the underpinning for many local and national challenges during the past two decades. While such debates have been very valuable in heightening our awareness of the environment and have sometimes led to significant progress, they are, at best, incomplete. As we move through the 1990's we must expand these ideas if the environment is truly to be protected. We need a new environmentalism because it seems that we have overlooked a major challenge to the environment: insufficient energy.