Taking Off Our Veil of Energy Ignorance

Source: Bloomberg, 2021.

A few weeks ago we saw people putting gasoline in plastic bags, buckets, and hampers. The Colonial Pipeline cybersecurity breach in May 2021 exposed the naked underbelly of our dependence on a single transportation fuel. While there have been attempts for the last 50 years to diversify our fuel supply after the OPEC oil embargo of the 70’s, we’ve never had significant traction with any other fuel or technology – until now

Electrified transportation offers us a glimpse of what the future could look like. If there is another oil shortage and a large share of our transportation sector uses electric vehicles, we’ll avoid panic buying (as well as irrational behavior that leads to injuries and death). If there is an electricity outage – like what we saw in February 2021 with the Texas blackout – you could use the battery in your car to heat your home, run your refrigerator, and operate your water pump. This Electrek story about how a Tesla was a lifeline for three families (and six cats) was particularly touching.

Thanks to the prosperity many of us in the U.S. have enjoyed over the past four decades, we have been lulled into a false sense of security that everything will stay the same and we don’t need to worry about the energy supply. As our climate changes, erratic weather events will continue to become more frequent and as nation-states and rogue actors assert their control through nefarious means, like cybersecurity-related interruptions, we must be prepared. 

As a result, consumer attitudes about EVs are changing. For example, my very conservative younger sister who is among the LAST people I expected to be interested in an EV reached out last week because she is interested in a car that can use gas and electricity. Because I’m a good sister, I sent her a list of my favorite plug-in hybrid electric options. 🙂 

The gas shortage in her Florida community made her rethink her stance, and I know she is not alone – especially among Millennials.  

Source: Pew Research Center, 2021.

An April 2021 consumer survey by Pew Research Center found, “Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are more open to considering the purchase of an electric vehicle, particularly in comparison with Baby Boomer and older adults. Similarly, other findings in the same survey showed that younger generations are more receptive to the idea of phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles. Majorities of Gen Z (56%) and Millennial (57%) adults favor phasing out production of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035, compared with lower shares of Gen X (45%) and Baby Boomer and older (38%) Americans.”

My mantra since the COVID-19 pandemic started is to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” as my life literally changed from week to week. I think we all have come to the collective realization that post-pandemic we are entering a new normal and the world will never go back to the way it was before. It is time for us to lift off our veil of energy ignorance and take back control.

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