One of the world’s leading experts on energy, Daniel Yergin, has put together a timeline chronicling world energy history based on his Pulitzer prizing-winning book, The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World.
Here is what struck him:
We go through these periods in which people think we’re running out of energy, the end is near, and then technology opens new doors. The timeline is really a demonstration of how these new doors of technology and energy use keep opening, and often in surprising and unexpected ways.
In order to continue relying on technological breakthroughs to open new doors in energy, it’s only logical to conclude we need to create an economic environment conducive to innovation.
According to economist Steven Landsburg, seen in this photo giving a talk at Cato University, innovation comes from “free people, properly incentivized.”
My guess is his definition of being “properly incentivized,” has nothing to do with receiving lavish taxpayer subsidies based on political favoritism, acquiring and retaining customers through government mandates, and onerous regulations diminishing otherwise valuable enterprises.
These sorts of programs may be advertised as responsible and energy-productive, but according to Landsburg’s analysis, actually threaten the long-term stability of Yergin’s trend, instead of secure it.