Two Kleinfelder directors—one responsible for the oil and gas market, and the other for renewable energy—once engaged in some good-natured ribbing over which resource was more valid and valuable. Moving from argument to teasing insults, one claimed that the other’s brain was "fried from being in the sun too long" (a snarky innuendo nod to solar energy), while the other proclaimed strongly against the "dirty, oily, dark side!" Though an odd form of team-building, the encounter called to mind some basic physics from old college days: energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed.
Nature has given humans the gifts of earth, sun, wind, plants/fossils (i.e., coal, oil, and gas), water, and atoms. Each of these contains energy (mass equals energy, one might recall from a textbook of yore), and each can transform into a usable energy source for modern-day life.
There is nothing "unnatural" about any of these energy sources. Why argue over which one is best, per se? The natural gas industry renaissance is producing many new jobs in today’s economy, which, crippled by unemployment, welcomes the burst in work. And renewables and nuclear energy have less of an impact on the environment, now and for the future.
But a solar panel is not likely manufactured using solely solar power, is it? And it does not get transported to another part of the world by solar power alone, correct? It doesn’t take much imagination to see that fossil fuels will have something to do with manufacturing and transporting solar panels. The solution lies not in one source, but in the allocation of the many.
Energy sources are interdependent and abundant. One source alone cannot bring the quality of life that humans seek. To improve the life of the global mass on this earth, humans must move towards more affordable energy, seeking all available sources. It’s true that there’s "no such thing as a free lunch"—coal produces mercury, other fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, dams for hydroelectric power alter ecology, wind turbines threaten birds, and corn production for ethanol changes food costs, for example. In the conflict of risk against benefit, energy professionals are responsible for making these calculations every day. Improving the quality of life comes at a cost. But in the end, the benefit outweighs the price, keeping the human race steady i n its quest for more energy.
In light of this, the directors both win the argument—they get to relentlessly keep doing what they do best. Because of the versatility and interdependence of energy sources, each can move full-steam-ahead to support their respective clients in their respective energy segments, while still contributing fully to a thriving approach to improving human quality of life.