Energy Addicts

When Edmund Burke wrote “those who have been once intoxicated with power and have derived any kind of emolument from it can never willingly abandon it” he was writing about political power. You can see that it is apt; there are many dictators who have achieved power and derived great wealth from the power that they have achieved, and even though most of that wealth might be locked in the vaults of Swiss banks the dictator knows that to surrender power is to surrender the wealth accrued from power.  

However, although the power of which Burke wrote was not electrical power, his maxim hold good for energy, for all of us who have become intoxicated with electrical power. Power lights our homes, works machines in our industries and offices, provides an essential source for the vast majority of our leisure activities and we have become quite intoxicated with it.

We expect, when we turn the television switch, to have a choice of hundreds of channels for our entertainment or edification, or even possibly our education. Without power the television becomes an ugly ornament that simply gathers dust and the television studios a poor and unsatisfactory form of theatre.

We drink the benefits of power, these emoluments, and gather far more of them than we need. We drink until we are in a permanent state of intoxication with power and become angry when the power stops, because we, in our drunken state, feel that we are entitled to walk into our room, flick switches and have the lights come on and the television start blaring.

I know that much power is useful and necessary; we need power to keep the sick and ailing alive, we need power to keep some of us healthy, but the surfeit of power that we consume, until we are drunk with it, makes us unwilling to abandon it; indeed it becomes impossible to abandon it, even though many billions of people in the world can live without getting drunk on the use of energy. We could manage with less, in the developed world, but pretend that to do so would result in economic failure, poverty, starvation and every other ill from which we might encounter.

This is the opinion of the addict about his addiction; life without that precious thing would be unbearable and unliveable.

Like all addictions our own developed world addiction to energy will kill us one day, and those around us.


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