« From Seeds to Saplings | Main | Causes on Facebook/MySpace -- Here to Stay? »

The 'Moral Equivalent of War'

May 29, 2008

President Jimmy Carter delivered the following speech to a national television audience on April 18, 1977. File under "The more things change..."

Oilrig"Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.

"It is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.

"We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren.

"We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now, we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.

"Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress. Its members will be my partners and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices.

"The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation.

"Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war" -- except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy.

"I know that some of you may doubt that we face real energy shortages. The 1973 gasoline lines are gone, and our homes are warm again. But our energy problem is worse tonight than it was in 1973 or a few weeks ago in the dead of winter. It is worse because more waste has occurred, and more time has passed by without our planning for the future. And it will get worse every day until we act.

"The oil and natural gas we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about six percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last five years. Our nation's independence of economic and political action is becoming increasingly constrained. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil that it can produce.

"The world now uses about 60 million barrels of oil a day and demand increases each year about 5 percent. This means that just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every nine months, or a new Saudi Arabia every three years. Obviously, this cannot continue...."

Click here for the complete text of Carter's speech.

-- Mitch Nauffts

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The real tragedy is that the energy shortage we face is mainly self-inflicted. We not only choose not to exploit our own national resources for eco-reasons, but then we also refuse to follow that up with sensible solutions to augment our existing energy supply, thus making ourselves dependent on foreign suppliers who sell their limited commodity to the highest bidder.

Thanks, as always, for the comment, DJ. Can't say I agree with your prescription, though, if by "exploit our own national resources for eco-reasons" you're suggesting the usual tired menu of solutions to our energy dilemma -- drill Anwar, drill the Atlantic coastal shelf, ramp up oil-shale production in the inter-mountain West, increase coal production, etc. Putting aside the very real concerns about fossil fuels and climate change (happy to debate that elsewhere), and given the limited and finite nature of any undiscovered oil finds in and around North America, aren't you just suggesting we kick our oil addiction down the road for our kids and grandkids to deal with? As a father of two teenagers, that strikes me as both irresponsible and incredibly selfish. Just my .02...

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Contributors

Quote of the Week

  • "My favorite Civil War era monuments are the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments...."

    — David Tenenhaus, professor of history and law, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Subscribe to Philantopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Other Blogs

Tags