The history of energy use is a sequence of transitions to sources that are cheaper, cleaner, and more flexible.
America tends to assume Silicon Valley-style innovators can drive quick and transformative changes, but even Silicon Valley's would-be masters of the universe have discovered that energy transitions are subject to time spans and technical constraints that defy their reach.
U.S. industries from steel-making to plastics synthesis are among the world's most energy-efficient; American agriculture is highly productive, as are America's railroads. But for decades, Americans themselves have been living beyond their means, wasting energy in their houses and cars and amassing energy-intensive throwaway products on credit.
I'm old fashioned. I'm not one of these young guys who think they are so smart that they can prescribe what humanity ought to do. Humanity never learns any lessons. Prescriptions don't matter. We already know exactly what to do. We just don't do it.
In every society, manufacturing builds the lower middle class. If you give up manufacturing, you end up with haves and have-nots, and you get social polarization. The whole lower middle class sinks.
People shouldn't be living in certain places - on earthquake faults or on flood plains. But they do, and there are consequences.