Economic development has flourished since the Industrial Revolution (1760-1840) when economies transitioned from primarily agriculture and crafts to industry, manufacturing, and transportation. Jobs were created exponentially.
Initially, workers were miserable and impoverished. Conditions were unsanitary. Long hours, no protections, and lack of job security were prevalent. Innovation, regulations, and social reform were the catalysts for better conditions.
The technologies developed improved agriculture providing more food for more people. New basic materials, like iron and steel, were incorporated. Fuels and power, such as coal, the steam engine, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine transformed lives by providing people with more material conveniences and the ability to travel faster and communicate more rapidly.
Healthcare improved due to advances in technology using the new fuels including sanitation, air and water quality, separate sewers from drinking water, etc. Victorians had their rooms painted in dark colors to hide the soot from the wood and coal fires in their homes. You can imagine the air quality was not good.
Innovation enabled manufacturers to produce more products at lower costs. Wealth was distributed more widely. Workers learned new skills. Confidence in survival and the concept of humans flourishing gained momentum.
Tapping natural resources including other metals and minerals changed the world for the better. This chart from the Center for Industrial Progress shows the positive effects of using natural resources that one might argue are there for a reason and to be used.
The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) shows us how using our natural resources has saved lives by providing reliable, low-cost energy to power machines that protect us from heat, cold, and storms.
Forbes shared a chart showing the improvement in water quality over time:
The United States became energy independent in 2019 for the first time since 1957. Production exceeded consumption. Not only were we energy independent but we were an exporter of energy.
Energy independence is an economic issue for all Americans. We all need reliable, low-cost energy to survive and thrive. We need to drive to the store, the doctor, and work. We need to cool and heat our homes and cook our food.
Jobs are created when we produce our own energy. The National Association of State Energy Officials reports the following:
Energy independence is a national security issue because it’s dangerous to rely on other countries, especially if those countries are enemies or become enemies. Unfortunately, we have lost our independence and are reliant, once again, on foreign sources of oil.
Reliable, low-cost energy is an economic development issue.
Companies considering relocation ask our local economic development professionals about energy costs. They want to meet with utility providers. Like the rest of us, they care about cost and reliability.
When companies build new buildings in a community almost all the materials and equipment used to build them rely on oil and gas. Of course, the companies need fuel to heat, cool, turn the lights on and run the equipment. But everything from plastic, asphalt, faucet washers, carpet backing, roofing, toilet seats, dashboards, car batteries, fuel for the bulldozer, and much more, are made from petroleum products.
Fossil fuel currently accounts for 80% of the world’s energy. The United States producing its own energy is a win-win-win for our citizens (especially for the poor), national security, and the economy.