Energy drives the world economy. U.S. energy policy is primarily motivated by considerations of supply and demand and cost-benefit calculations. Yet, the stalled National Energy Policy Act is proof that ethical concerns, like those surrounding MTBE, are never far away. Furthermore, our inordinate consumption of fossil fuels has prompted many to call for a consideration of values like humility and justice when crafting energy policies. These concerns are bolstered by questions of economic security as more and more of our energy resources are imported from politically unstable regions.
Clearly, energy extraction and consumption are practices that are embedded deeply in our cultural, political, and historical contexts. They require a level of thoughtfulness and conversation that is richer than mere economics. Energy binds our global community and implicates us within every earth process. It is at the heart of our human condition and it deserves the deep reflection of humanists to be integrated with the economists and engineers.