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ost Americans dont often consider the direct and very real
impact that energy use has on them as individuals. Whatever
form it might take, energy use affects virtually every aspect of
our lives, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Energy issues abound all around us, both in dramatic ways, such as
the rising price at the gasoline pump, and in subtle, often unrecog-
nized ways, such as the electric power required to clean and distribute
our water supply. In this section, we will examine in depth eight of
America’s most important energy issues to better understand why it is
so essential for our nation to gain its freedom from fossil fuels.
In Chapter 4, we’ll look at why clean energy will help us preserve
our democratic form of government. In Chapter 5, we’ll consider
our national security and how achieving our energy independence
can help make Americans significantly safer from foreign threats. In
Chapter 6, well examine how clean and green energy can enable us to
become better stewards of the natural world and fulfill our moral ob-
ligation to protect the environment. In Chapter 7, we’ll consider how
Americas economy can grow more robust and secure as we develop
sustainable-energy industries that will create hundreds of thousands
of green-collar jobs. In Chapter 8, well find out how enhancing the
efficiency of our nations vehicles and transportation systems is abso-
lutely vital for achieving our energy independence. In Chapter 9, we’ll
learn why our nations food supply is so closely intertwined with fos-
sil fuels and how energy independence can help our countrys farm-
ers provide the agricultural products needed to sustain our modern
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civilization in future years. In Chapter 10, we’ll analyze how achiev-
ing a sustainable-energy society will help improve the health and
well-being of all Americans. Finally, in Chapter 11, we’ll gain an un-
derstanding of how building Americas brainpower by improving our
schools and educational systems is an absolutely necessary component
to achieving our energy independence.
Some of the chapters in this section will deal with potential ca-
lamities that might come about in the twenty-first century because of
the peaking of global oil production and the climate changes resulting
from global warming. We must accept the fact that modern civiliza-
tion will pay a heavy price if we continue traveling down the hydro-
carbon highway. We must not sugarcoat the truth about our present
energy situation and ignore the catastrophic harms our addiction to
fossil fuels might bring.
On the other hand, we must not let these potential troubles dis-
courage us from moving forward and finding solutions—and taking
action to avert their impact. Instead, we must use the threat of these
doom-and-gloom projections to motivate us to step up our efforts to
gain energy independence. We are not helpless in shaping our des-
tiny. There are viable solutions for a better future for all of us, which
we’ll learn about in the third section of this book. As you read about
Americas energy issues, please bear in mind that we can avoid the
brunt of many of the possible trials and tribulations by implementing
a vigorous national energy policy that will lead to a sustainable-energy
society. We all have a bright future ahead of us if we can keep up our
courage and take action to achieve it.

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