Living in the Future's Past: Why Everyone is Needed in the Energy Transition

Written by:

Katie Mehnert

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the C3E Women's Symposium and Awards. I was nothing short of impressed by all of the poster presentations, panel discussions, and conversations about the energy transition. There were a wide range of people and forms of energy represented at this symposium. As an energy leader, mother and wife who cares deeply about building bridges and connections, it's time I lay out a few myths and truths I believe that need to be addressed about the energy transition and climate change.

Myth 1: The oil and gas industry doesn't care about climate

It's just false. While there are plenty of deniers of climate, there are companies and people in these companies who care about our future. They are faced with the challenge of meeting today's rising demand, lowering carbon emissions, while also investing and addressing the economics and scale of different fuels. This is not an easy thing to do. And while we can argue that the industry knew of the harmful effects of fossil fuels, that doesn't mean those decisions 40 years ago still hold true today. I know so many people who care about this and we need include them at the table instead of making assumptions based on the bias we have of the past and marching against them.

Myth 2: Oil and gas has no value or seat at the table in the future

This is also false. Everything we consume has elements of petroleum. Turning off fossil fuels is like saying let's turn off the internet. Where would our world be if we removed oil and gas in an instant? We'd be in the dark. We need all forms of energy to drive the future and oil and gas is getting cleaner with new technologies being applied in the extraction and production of fossils. However, we need every resource at this table to look at how we will transition to a lower-carbon future.

Truth 1: Climate change is real and we (are all) not moving fast enough

Rising seas, flooding in Venice, fires and droughts in California, ice melts, hurricanes, record temperatures, and more unforeseen climate events are living proof our natural environment is changing faster than ever. We are not moving fast enough, though. There has been too much debate and division and not enough collective action. Industry plays a role but our individual choices and how we choose to change our behaviors will also drive a difference in the energy transition.

Truth 2: We can innovate and will solve this challenge

As a mother and wife and homeowner who lost my home and business to forced reservoir flooding in Hurricane Harvey, I witnessed first hand what it meant to come together to solve challenges. Harvey like many other climate events shouldn't happen. The history of man and womankind shows we are a species driven by progress. But to accelerate this transition we need to work together. Governments, private industry, and individuals need to take a hard look at what we want our future to be.

Why we all have a role in the energy transition

Last year Jeff Bridges and Susan Kucera released the film Living in the Future's Past. The film features Bridges and several scientists and intellectuals discussing how biology, physics, economics, and politics have contributed to climate change and resource depletion. I was honored to have Susan Kucera to Houston recently to have her meet with the many neighbors who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey to talk about the intersection of housing, climate, insurance and banking.

Living in the Future's Past shows how no one can predict how major changes might emerge from the spontaneous actions of the many.  How energy takes many forms as it moves through and animates everything.  How, as we come to understand our true connection to all there is, we will need to redefine our expectations, not as what we will lose, but what we might gain by preparing for something different. It's available on all major platforms like Amazon Prime, Apple, and others and I hope you'll have a watch.

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