Coddled. Delicate. The “teacup generation,” because we must be handled with care. We don’t know (or appreciate) where things come from and we take more than we give back. As a …
Coddled. Delicate. The “teacup generation,” because we must be handled with care. We don’t know (or appreciate) where things come from and we take more than we give back. As a millennial born in 1991, those are just a few of the slanders and stereotypes thrown my generation’s way.
Recently, I was “informed” by a friend’s father that environmentalism was the new religion for my generation. That millennials are all wandering around aimlessly looking for a cause, and that new cause is defending Mother Earth.
To some degree, I think that may be true.
But what’s misunderstood is the assumption that when it comes to the environment, we only care about renewable energy. That somehow the ultimatum is “wind and solar or die!” What an absurd notion, and quite frankly offensive.
As a young professional and only a few years into my career, I’m far from being at the top of the salary payroll at my job. Like every other generation, when starting out you have to make every dollar stretch.
It’s true, I live in rural New Mexico and make every effort to spend more time outdoors than indoors. I work hard, and I play hard. My free time belongs to me, and the term “overtime” means back-to-back hikes, not logging extra hours at the office.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand or appreciate how energy empowers my lifestyle.
Specifically, I’m talking about fossil fuels. I may support wind and solar, but that doesn’t mean I hate or resent fossil fuels. I own multiple computers, including my favored one in my pocket. I call, email, text, schedule and research everything I do on my cell phone which is made of a combination of plastics, aluminum, processor chips from rare earth minerals and fueled by electricity which statistically is more likely to come from coal or natural gas than wind or solar power.
The furniture in my home is primarily made of metals and plastic. Those plastics are most often made from polypropylene resin—a plastic polymer with a wide range of uses, including car parts, diapers and, of course, furniture. And it is made possible from by-products of processing natural gas and refining crude oil.
I own a fuel efficient Toyota Corolla which I often drive three hours from my home in Cimarron to Albuquerque and back. It runs on (you guessed it) gasoline and is affordable and reliable, especially on steep mountain terrains.
While I do curiously wonder about what will power our future, what magic materials goods will be made of or how artificial intelligence will intuitively run our power grid, in the meantime, this girl understands (and respects) what powers my day, every day – fossil fuels.
Do I consider myself an environmentalist? You bet I do. That’s because I have researched and learned that the term “environmentally friendly” isn’t always what it seems to be, and we must acknowledge the fact that some of the products made from greener substitutes are inferior or downright dangerous – do you want your father’s heart valve and pacemaker made from anything other than the best, strongest materials? And the alternatives to synthetic fibers happen to be cotton, hemp, wool and — not to put too fine a point on it — leather and fur.
The reality is that the fossil fuel industry is a business. It is not an ideology and it is not a cause, like environmentalism is, or has become. Businesses must adapt to stay in business. Think efficiencies. Where efficiency improvements lower cost, and in many cases uses less energy or less expensive materials, the business and environment will win. Every CEO in America is continually looking for opportunities where that happens.
So unless you’re willing to get rid of your phone, computer, sell your car (and bike) and walk to work and live in the wilderness in a tent, think for a second where the things you rely on come from and what they’re made out of. Oh wait, that tent is probably nylon, a synthetic material. I’m sure you can make do with some sticks and leaves.
Victoria Gonzáles is the state director of the Consumer Energy Alliance, a nonprofit, pro-energy of all types organization.
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