What’s the Big Idea?
T. Boone Pickens spent 40 years nurturing one of the largest independent oil companies in the United States, Mesa Petroleum. In recent years, CNBC dubbed him “the Oracle of Oil” for his uncanny ability to forecast oil prices accurately. By any measure, Pickens understands oil, and has reasons to back the US oil industry. Yet since 2008, he has invested thousands of hours and $82 million of his own money advertising and lobbying for “The Pickens Plan,” an ambitious roadmap to an energy-independent and more sustainable American future. The plan would create millions of US jobs while tapping into America’s vast resources of natural gas, solar energy, and wind power.
As world oil reserves become strained beyond capacity, dependence on OPEC becomes an increasingly bad idea for the US. Many of its members are less than friendly to US interests; as demand outstrips supply, these countries may use their control of oil prices to make us “offers that [we] can’t refuse.”
Meanwhile, there is international scientific consensus that carbon emissions are a significant factor driving climate change. According to a 2008 US government report, these changes “will significantly disrupt water supplies, agriculture, forestry and ecosystems for decades.” This is to say nothing of the direct health effects of atmospheric pollution, which include emphasema, asthma, and cardiovascular illness.
According to Pickens, the current cost of renewables like wind and solar power means that we’re stuck with oil and natural gas for the next 20 or 30 years. In the coming decades, says Pickens, to avoid an imminent energy crisis and the political consequences of continued energy dependence, the US will need to invest in domestic production and tap those reserves. The future however, is in renewable and efficient energy sources––supercharged batteries, wind farms, and solar power. Smart inventors, investors, and professionals in every business sector will be keeping a close eye on developments in those areas, and doing what they can to hurry them along.