Most economic models take energy for granted. They assume endless (and price-elastic) supplies, zero externalities from energy generation, transmission and waste, and easy substitutability among various energy forms – and with other factors of production. In reality, energy is a vital and increasingly scarce component of all productive systems. Its mobilization produces substantial environmental impacts, and it typically complements, rather than substitutes for, other productive inputs. Unless and until we integrate the economic and scientific analysis of energy’s role in our natural and social systems, we will continue to squander this precious resource, while damaging the environment. It is the goal of BPEI to promote greater awareness and understanding of these vitally important – and urgent – issues, so that we make a swift and sensible transition away from fossil fuels.

Our climate is changing and the evidence of anthropogenic influence is growing. A global consensus has emerged around decarbonization as a primary remedy, which we support. However, in society’s well-intentioned race to mitigate the effects of climate change, approaches that lack robust analytical support are being entertained. We advocate for science-based systems analysis so that we may understand all dimensions of the problem and the proposed solutions. That will not only reduce the risk of unintended consequences but ensure that we evaluate the efficacy of various proposals according to a standard set of scientifically-grounded criteria, based on their real-world impact. Given the existential threat humanity now confronts, we cannot afford to squander our precious resources on ineffective practices that deny basic natural realities.

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Invested in the Nature of Energy.