Energy Prospects for the Future
WHAT does the future hold for an energy-hungry world? Which of the many sources we have looked into will we be using in the years to come?
The answer to the question depends on how far ahead you want to look. We must have in mind, too, that mankind now stands on the brink of a “great tribulation” that will bring far-reaching changes to human society.
If you are an older person, you may be most interested in what the next decade or so will bring. On the near time scale, there is no escape from increasing shortages. The era of cheap, plentiful energy is gone. You may not expect to see it again in your lifetime. The petroleum is running out. Nuclear energy might have been ready to fill much of the gap, but political disputes have held it back. Coal offers the only immediate relief, but reluctance to act to open new mines and provide transport means that the crisis can only worsen.
The desperate scramble to get a bigger share of the dwindling supplies of petroleum is aptly symbolized by the quarrels and violence among individuals lining up at filling stations. This same attitude prevails in confrontations between nations. Angry accusations are exchanged between oil-producing countries, exploiting their newfound wealth, and frustrated industrial countries. Each blames the other for the accelerating spiral of inflation. On the producers’ side, leaders meet and argue about how much to raise the price. On the users’ side, allies meet and quarrel about how to divide a pie that is not big enough for all. No remedy appears. It would appear that the situation can only become worse.
If you are a younger person, you may be interested to look farther ahead. What is the outlook for energy 25 or 50 years from now? From the information in the foregoing articles, you may well conclude that the energy picture will be bright again by then. If the problems that beset nuclear energy can be solved, it is possible that it may fill a large part of the need. But it seems more likely that solar power, whether collected directly as heat or electricity, or acquired indirectly through wind machines, may be a major source of energy in the next century.
But when we speak of the 21st century, you may wonder whether mankind can survive through the 20th century to enjoy the promised bounty. You see lawlessness increasing at every level of human society, sometimes to the brink of anarchy. Each narrow-interest group clamors for its asserted rights in disregard of broader national interests. Nations find it more difficult to make agreements and easier to abrogate them.
In this setting, the energy crisis aggravates further the “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out” of the problems that Jesus Christ foretold would overwhelm the world in this century. (Luke 21:25) Faltering efforts by national leaders to solve the energy problem wane into paralysis. Their failure confirms indisputably the Bible’s statement that man does not have the ability to govern himself. (Jer. 10:23) The problems are too big for him. Only through the rule of the earth by God’s kingdom will come the solution to man’s problems, including the question of energy.
The Bible shows that the “fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth” are well founded. (Luke 21:26) These coming things include the complete end of man’s political, economic and religious organizations, making way for the rule of the earth by Jehovah’s kingdom under Christ.
Energy in Paradise
If you are one who accepts the Bible’s point of view, the question about future sources of energy has a meaning for you that goes far beyond the immediate crisis. You are interested in what man will use for 1,000 years ahead, yes, on into eternity.
It is not our purpose here to speculate on details that only the future will disclose. However, reasoning on Bible principles indicates that some forms of energy are more compatible than others with the life-style we expect to prevail in the new system of things.
We have seen how the widespread use of coal defaces the countryside, both where it is mined and where it is burned. Also, commercial mining of coal is physically dangerous and deleterious to the health of the miners. The present-day fouling of the air is caused largely by excessive use of petroleum fuels. Chemists have discovered that the great variety and complexity of hydrocarbon molecules in petroleum provide a starting point for the synthesis of all kinds of useful and marvelous substances. It really shows an utter lack of appreciation for this natural treasure to destroy it by ruthlessly burning it.
Remember, too, that nothing will be allowed to cause harm or even the fear of disaster to earth’s inhabitants. (Mic. 4:4) The potential for harm inherent in the use of nuclear power would seem to make it undesirable for the new earth.
Considering that man is to live forever upon the earth, we would expect his energy to be drawn from sources that will not be used up faster than they are formed. (Ps. 37:29; Eccl. 1:4) This also would preclude the extensive burning of coal or oil, as well as the fission of uranium. It favors instead the use of renewable energy sources. In Ecclesiastes 1:5-7, the cycles of nature are highlighted, by which everything is maintained and renewed. Man’s energy should logically be secured from things that fit in with these natural cycles, things that will never run out. Note that in these verses of Ecclesiastes, sunlight, wind and running water are each specifically mentioned as things that are continually available. (Note also Job 38:24-27.) Each of these can be used as sources of power that are constantly renewed. Moreover, they are clean. They do not pollute the natural surroundings. The means of using them can be blended harmoniously into the landscape.
Another point to consider is that commercial exploitation of natural resources for profit will not survive the end of this system of things. The incentive to develop various sources of energy will be, not the love of money, but love for fellowman. (1 Tim. 6:10; Matt. 22:39) This principle will put an entirely different outlook on the comparative desirability of various energy sources from that which prevails in the present economic system.
Finally, and above all, everyone alive will acknowledge his dependence on Jehovah for life and for all the good things that make life enjoyable. Jehovah is the ultimate Source of every kind of energy, and this source is infinite and inexhaustible. (Isa. 40:28-31) As “the Father of the celestial lights,” he is the Creator of the sun, which provides light and heat unceasingly as his loving gift to mankind.—Jas. 1:17; Ps. 74:16.
Jehovah invented the nuclear process that gives the sun its power. He understands and controls it perfectly. He has fueled it for billions of years ahead. Before the fuel burns out, he can replace it just as easily as we take off an old garment and put on a new one. (Ps. 102:25, 26) There would be no crisis in solar energy.
Because Jehovah is eternal, his promise of eternal life to his obedient subjects is not an empty one. He can sustain his creation to time indefinite, even forever. (Ps. 104:5) Under his beneficent rule, we will never have to worry about where we will find energy for the future.
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The incentive to develop various sources of energy will be, not the love of money, but love for fellowman
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Jehovah is the ultimate source of every kind of energy, and this source is infinite and inexhaustible