The problem is energy, a subject I've focused on my entire professional life. My grandfather helped build the first hydroelectric power plant (below is the Wainiha Powerhouse I'm visiting, which is still producing the original 3 MW) on Kauai more than a century ago, so, I guess, this has been a multi-generational effort to find solutions.
My first job exactly 50 years ago was in biomass engineering (also known as the sugar industry in those days). Ten years later soon after my PhD in chemical engineering, I was one of the original reservoir engineers on the Hawaii Geothermal Project. Around that time I became chairman of the American Solar Energy Society's wind power division. I drafted the original ocean thermal energy conversion and hydrogen legislation when I worked for the U.S. Senate about a third of a century ago. I've been trying to advance biomethanol and the direct methanol fuel cell for cars, the hydrogen jetliner and the Blue Revolution.
$4/gallon to produce, which is the equivalent of $168/barrel oil, and that is without any profit or taxes. The state of the technology can best be exemplified by noting that our U.S. Navy just paid something like $26/gallon for the biofuel portion of their RimPac exercise in Hawaii. and the U.S. Air Force was charged $59/gallon for 11,000 gallons of biojetfuel.
plug-in electric cars are not viable, especially in Hawaii. First, because all that electricity mostly will come from fossil fuels for many decades, second, the lithium battery is the last battery (well, there might be something to fluorine, but...), and finally, electricity in Hawaii costs 300% more than the U.S. average. Finally, almost all the renewable expenditures have gone towards electricity, which is only one third the problem. Ground transportation should be our greatest concern, and then, there is aviation.
The previous two serious economic recessions struck after the second energy crisis in 1979 when the price of oil shot up, and the summer of 2008 when the spot topped $147/barrel. I would not be surprised if there is a cataclysmic depression when oil jumps to $200/barrel and stays there for many months. I would not be particularly shocked if this occurred next year.
So what's my point in bringing this all up again. Perhaps you, too, have been concerned, but might be even more powerless than me. I'm not trying to be mean or tormentive. Yes, all the pathways to resolution appear to be blocked. Perhaps it is hopeless, and the the best that anyone can do is to ride the wave downhill as lifestyles continue to decline. You can accept that eventuality, but I continue to hold out for that of spark of the possible.
The problem is us. My advantage is that I am old and most of you aren't. I've tried. Isn't it about time for you to do something about this? You will be the ones to face the consequences. And I don't mean to suddenly hoard gold or attempt to set up a sustainable community or merely educate the public that something akin to doomsday is coming. That would be like giving up. Do something productive to circumvent the worse or, at least, to ameliorate the pain. The world wide web is where there is hope (yes, that word again) for catalysis. Maybe you are the one with the right idea and ability to make that crucial difference.