The pursuit of happiness is an explicit goal laid out by the founding fathers of this nation; and the Homestead Act was the greatest law ever passed, as it allowed for the settlement of the wild lands of the west expanding the original colonies. The native Indian tribes were driven out and the European settlers brought with them personal property ownership, to what had been a largely communal land. This basic premise where ownership of land and all the resources below it belongs to a person; and not the state was the bedrock of American thinking, which lasts to this day. It laid the foundation for the greatest wealth creation that our times have seen, and changed the course of entrepreneurship and invention over the past few centuries.
Freed from the clutches of the state each individual was truly free to pursue his or her own development and lifestyle. All lands have their own resources but to explore and use those needs courage, determination, vision, steadfast determination and a risk taking ability. Majority of such endeavors may end in failures, but even if a miniscule portion of new projects are successful, they can change the course of our human condition for centuries to come. The latest example is the development of horizontal fracturing (fracking) of shale rock to release the natural gas and oil buried deep in our earth. As people own the land and its resources a new gold rush has started and an example is the remote state of North Dakota where unemployment is 2.6% and the economy is booming.
There is no other country which could have developed this, as it is a unique American characteristic that when faced with resource challenges, its innovators and tinkerers come up with ways to achieve new breakthroughs in how we think and do things. When the oil majors gave up on the US oil fields as too mature and moved their investments to offshore and to other countries; it was the wildcatters in Texas, who continued to pursue new ways to exploit existing resources. Last year alone 150,000 wells were dug to harness this technology in the US, dwarfing all other countries around the world. Majority of these were done by small unknown companies and individuals and have revolutionized American energy growth, while the rest of the world suffers shortages and high prices of gas. Even China which sits on one of the largest shale formations; with its huge state owned oil companies, is far behind and will take decades to catch up as it copies the technology.
The new industrialization of America based on cheap gas and oil will allow the country to continue to create #wealth and become energy independent and eventually the largest exporter of petro chemicals in the coming decades, while the rest of the world will continue to play catch up. It takes trillions of dollars to increase the GDP of America even marginally and thus innovation and continuous technological breakthroughs are required on a daily basis. The internet of things is coming and it will need more energy than ever before. The problem is that all these fossil fuels like coal, gas, oil are destroying our eco system and global warming is leading to an unsustainable planet, as we are destroying habitats and environments indiscriminately.
We are exterminating whole species and microorganisms on a scale similar to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The sad reality is that extinction of a species is final and billions of years of evolution die with it. We are destroying the oceans and the land and all living creatures are threatened by the indiscriminate growth of our species. We have no idea how nature works despite our huge scientific knowledge and research in various fields. The more we learn the more we understand that there is still much we do not understand, about the interdependence of life and creatures around us. The creationists would have us believe that we are created in God’s image; but do they even understand God’s compassion and his laws that are progressive, which allow the blossoming of nature in all its variety and complexity to develop. If we are created in his image then we should be better harbingers of our environment and must ensure that we become the custodians of His world, and everything that exists in it.
There are of course some scientists who have understood our interdependence on everything around us and are pushing for change. Renewal energy whether from solar, wind, biogas, tidal, fusion, fission, algae must be developed to wean us away from the carbon dependency of our addiction to cheap coal and oil. With seven billion humans and growing our energy and resource needs are assuming Malthusian proportions. Global warming has to be reversed or we will face mass extinction of more species of flora, fauna, microorganisms, animal and bird species with devastating effects on our own survival.
There is of course progress being made on renewal sources of energy across Europe, China and America and they are the main consumers of energy today. For example GE just confirmed orders for 3,900 MW for its wind turbines in the US alone, as they have become more efficient. Similarly the dormant nuclear energy industry is showing signs of renewal and new plants are being built again, though the problem of storing nuclear waste still remains. Solar is another area where giant strides can be made to harness the power of the sun to provide for our needs. More funding is required to make alternate energy sources available and also we need innovation to make existing transportation, habitats and lifestyles more energy efficient to reduce our carbon footprint.
My #hope is that instead of destroying each other, we need to find a way to coexist and prosper. The whole universe is available for us to grow, but if we kill our own blue planet then we will have nowhere left to call home. Human ingenuity and innovation knows no boundaries and we have a lot of work ahead of us still to do. In the pursuit of happiness we need to raise our compassion and love for all creatures, as that is the only sustainable path for our future and the generations to come.